Out of sight, out of mind? – Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse
Helen G // 3 September 2010
The LGBT Domestic Abuse Project and the Scottish Transgender Alliance have now published their research document surveying the levels and forms of domestic abuse to which transgender people are subjected, and it makes for grim reading.
The 36-page document, called Out of sight, out of mind? – Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse, is available from as a 1.1MB PDF file which may be downloaded directly from the Scottish Transgender Alliance website by following this link.
The report reveals extremely high levels of prejudice and abuse in transgender people’s relationships and home lives, coupled with unacceptable negative experiences of accessing fundamental services and support during the times when they are most needed.
The significance of this document is that it is the first published research focused solely on transgender people’s experiences of domestic abuse in the UK. It is hoped that, in addition to documenting the ways in which transgender people experience domestic abuse, the information will help in determining the specific needs of the community when accessing services which provide support and advice to those experiencing domestic abuse. Additionally, the research explores some of the barriers faced by transgender people experiencing domestic abuse when trying to access mainstream domestic abuse services. Key findings include:
- 80% of respondents stated that they had experienced emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive behaviour by a partner or ex-partner – although only 60% of respondents recognised the behaviour as domestic abuse.
- The type of domestic abuse most frequently experienced by the respondents was transphobic emotional abuse, with 73% of the respondents experiencing at least one type of transphobic emotionally abusive behaviour from a partner or ex-partner.
- 60% of respondents had experienced controlling behaviour from a partner or ex-partner.
- 45% of respondents had experienced physically abusive behaviour from a partner
- 47% of respondents had experienced some form of sexual abuse from a partner
- 37% of respondents said that someone had forced, or tried to force them to have
sex when they were under the age of 16.
- 46% of respondents said that someone had forced, or tried to force them to
engage in some other form of sexual activity when under the age of 16.
- 10% of respondents stated that someone had forced, or tried to force them to
engage in sexual activity for money.
As regards the impact that domestic abuse has on trans people’s wellbeing:
- 98% identified at least one negative impact upon their wellbeing as a result of their experiences of domestic abuse.
- 76% identified having experienced psychological or emotional problems as a consequence of the abuse.
- 15% said that they had attempted suicide as a consequence of the abuse.
- 24% told no one about the domestic abuse that they had experienced.
- 18% felt that the most recent domestic abuse that they had experienced was “just something that happened”.
- 51% thought that the most recent domestic abuse they had experienced was “wrong but not a crime”.
Those last two remarks – that DA is “just something that happened” and that it was “wrong but not a crime” – are particularly telling. They point to not only an internalisation of cis society’s busted idea that it’s okay to abuse trans people in every way, but also to a depressing resignation that it’s to be expected because we’re trans. Transitioning should be a positive experience, a connecting with one’s body and finding oneself in the world. No human being should be someone else’s punchbag, simply for being who we are.
The violence against us, in all its myriad forms, has to stop. If we didn’t know the extent of it before, even anecdotally, this document provides damning evidence of a society where transphobic abuse is the norm for 80% of us. It cannot be allowed to continue; things have to change for the better, and soon. Unfortunately, it is not we who have the power to bring about these improvements in our lives. The changes have to start with those who abuse us – and those who condone those abuses by their silence. I only wish I knew how to make it happen.
With thanks to Amy Roch, Domestic Abuse Development Officer at LGBT Youth Scotland, for her help and encouragement.