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About Abuse


Updated: September 12, 2018

What forms of abuse are unique to transgender victims?

In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse and the abuse described in What forms of abuse are unique to LGBTQ victims?, transgender or trans victims of domestic violence may face specific forms of abuse because they are trans. In one 2015 study, trans survivors reported experiencing physical violence, emotional abuse, threats, and intimidation.1 Trans people are vulnerable to emotional abuse and bullying by the abusive partner because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Here are some of the behaviors abusers may use to gain power and control over transgender victims:

  • emotionally belittling the victim by calling the victim “it” or anything other than the victim’s pronouns;
  • making fun of how the victim’s body looks and/or how it does or doesn’t “match” the victim’s gender identity;
  • accusing the victim of not being a “real” man/woman;
  • ridiculing the victim’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, perhaps by using slurs, offensive pronouns, or insults;
  • denying the victim access to medical treatment and/or hormones by hiding or discarding medication, preventing the victim from seeing the doctor (such as by taking away the car or withholding money), or creating other barriers that prevent the victim from receiving medical attention;
  • hiding or throwing away a victim’s accessories or clothing items, especially items which help the victim present as their gender (such as a binder for trans men and nonbinary and gender nonconforming people);
  • touching parts of the victim’s body in an unwanted way, or calling body parts by terms the abuser knows will hurt the victim;
  • justifying sexual abuse by saying things like, “this is how real men/women like sex;”
  • threatening to “out” the victim to family, friends, co-workers, landlords, law enforcement, or anyone else without the victim’s consent;
  • telling the victim that they would “make the LGBTQ community look bad” by coming forward with the abuse; and
  • forbidding the victim from revealing that they are transgender or from talking about issues specific to the transgender community with others.1

Along with general resources for domestic violence victims, there are places where transgender victims of abuse can find help specific to their needs. For a list of local and national resources that specialize in transgender domestic violence or are LGBTQ-friendly, please see our National Organizations / LGBTQ page.

1 This information has been adapted from information compiled by FORGE - see “Transgender/SOFFA: Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Resource Sheet.”