New research into domestic abuse against trans people

// 27 August 2010

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DV against trans peopleThere is now a substantial body of evidence recording the spiralling rate of violence against trans people the world over and, as more research becomes available, the clearer the extent of that violence becomes. But while the media routinely publishes selective, salacious and sensationalist accounts of the murders of some of my sisters – Andrea Waddell and Destiny Lauren are two recent examples – there is much less information available about the amounts of domestic abuse meted out to trans people.

So the publication of any new research is to be applauded, even though it’s more likely to confirm what many trans people already know to be depressingly true, anecdotally if not from personal experience, namely that the levels of domestic abuse and violence we face are alarmingly and unacceptably high.

A forthcoming piece of research, carried out by the LGBT Domestic Abuse Project and the Scottish Transgender Alliance, based mostly in Scotland (70% of respondents, with 20% from other parts of the UK and further 5 people from the U.S.), has found that:

  • 80% of the trans people surveyed have experienced some form of abusive behaviour from a partner or expartner, although only 60% identified these behaviours as domestic abuse;
  • 45% of respondents had experienced physical abuse from a partner or ex-partner and
  • 47% of respondents had experienced sexual abuse from a partner or ex-partner.

Despite these high figures, 24% of people had told no one about the abuse they had experienced. The research also highlights the reluctance that many transgender people feel about disclosing or reporting abuse to services or the police.

As Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, says:

“The research shows the high levels of abuse and prejudice that many transgender people are facing in their relationships and homes and the negative reactions that they experience when they do seek support from services.”

“This highlights the need for statutory and voluntary services to work together to raise awareness of this issue and improve responses to transgender people when they do access support.”

This is the first piece of research that looks specifically at trans people’s experiences of domestic abuse and will be published in full next week (I’ll add a link as soon as it becomes available). The LGBT Domestic Abuse Project and the Scottish Transgender Alliance will also be consulting organisations across Scotland, who work with people experiencing domestic abuse, on how to move forward in improving responses to transgender people who are experiencing domestic abuse.


With thanks to Amy Roch, Domestic Abuse Development Officer at LGBT Youth Scotland, for her help and encouragement.

Cross-posted at Bird of Paradox


Reminder: Comments on this post will be moderated in accordance with both The F-Word bloggers’ position on transphobia and cissexism and the site’s usual commenting policy.

Comments From You

davina // Posted 27 August 2010 at 3:56 pm

Great to see this issue finally getting some attention. Just wanted to flag up this resource for trans people experiencing domestic violence, produced by my oprganisation in partnership with trans groups and trans individuals:

Helen G // Posted 27 August 2010 at 4:03 pm

Thanks davina, I appreciate the information.

rosslyn helen // Posted 28 August 2010 at 12:36 pm

It not the least surprising that this should be so..our culture de-values women generally, valuing in the main those qualities for which women may in fact be culturally valued – beauty , fertility nurture. Thus abuses in personal relationships are culturally mediated to the detriment of women, even more so for transwomen, who can rarely be valued within those terms .I was wondering where these researchers got their sample from though ..the only transwomen I know ( excepting a very very select few ) who actually have a partner are those who have retained one from pre transition……

Heidi // Posted 28 August 2010 at 7:40 pm

Just out of interest, is the 24% who didn’t report it to the police 24% of the total respondants or 24% of the respondants who had experienced domestic violence?

For comparison Women’s Aid statistics estimate that between 24% and 35% of all domestic violence goes unreported.

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