Domestic Violence and abuse is in the limelight more than ever before. The levels of abuse to heterosexual women are 1 in 4 – the same figure experienced by LGBT people.
“Domestic violence is still invisible in our communities,” says Rita Hirani, CEO of Broken Rainbow, funded by the Home Office to run the national LGBT domestic violence helpline.
“Limited research in terms of domestic violence and abuse amongst transgendered people suggests the figure may even be higher,” adds Denise Anderson from Spectrum London, a peer support forum for all trans people and those questioning their gender.
In previous research carried out by Brighton’s Spectrum LGBT Forums Count Me In Too project, along with Press For Change’s research in their Endangered Penalties report, it was shown that an alarming figure of 64% of Trans people had experienced Domestic Violence at some time.
“This is a large percentage of transgendered people, one that when presented to various organisations brings looks of surprise and alarm, because many have not encountered transgendered people contacting them for assistance,” says Denise.
I was well aware that the levels of intimate partner violence committed against trans women were quite significantly higher than those committed against cis women. But the fact that 64% of all trans people have been the victims of such violence is still incredibly shocking to me, and I’m sure to a lot of other cis people. And it damn well ought to serve as a wake up call. Especially to cis feminists, in light of our recent discussion regarding transphobic/transmisogynistic exclusion of trans women from many women’s shelters.
This is even truer when we know from experience that rates of reported abuse of any kind are almost always lower than actual instances, not the other way around. There’s a lot resting on the way that questions are posed — was “domestic violence” defined/was the term actually used or was violence falling under that category instead described/was sexual violence committed by an intimate partner explicitly included in survey/much more — and even with an incredibly thoughtfully worded survey, there’s still always some number of instances of survival denial.
So that’s at least two-thirds of UK trans people who have been the victims of intimate partner violence in their lives, and quite likely even more. And since they rarely are in other instances, I seriously doubt that the numbers are significantly lower in the U.S.
These extraordinarily high rates of violence are why Spectrum London is conducting their own survey:
With this in mind Spectrum London along with Broken Rainbow feel it is time to revisit this subject, consulting Transgendered people, investigating if these levels are more indicative of a wider audience nationally. The survey hopes to confirm previous research, and raise awareness to agencies and service providers of the issues surrounding domestic violence in the transgendered communities.
“With increased awareness of these issues to support organisations, we hope transgendered people will feel more comfortable to be able to report issues of a domestic violence nature, knowing support is available,” says Denise.
The Online survey can be found here:
The survey will be open from 1st June 2009 until the 1st September 2009. We will then collate the information and will be presenting the findings from early October.
All trans people in the UK are highly encouraged to participate, regardless of whether or not they themselves have experienced domestic violence. And to everyone reading this, don’t forget to spread the word.