What forms of abuse are unique to transgender victims?
In addition to “traditional” forms of abuse, trans people are vulnerable to emotional abuse and bullying by the abusive partner because of their non-conforming 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 trans person by calling the victim "it" or anything other than the victim’s preferred pronoun;
- Making fun of how the trans person’s body looks and/or how it does or doesn’t match the victim's gender identity;
- Accusing the trans person of not being a "real" man/woman;
- Ridiculing the trans person's gender identity and/or sexual orientation, perhaps by using slurs, offensive pronouns, or insults;
- Denying the trans person access to medical treatment and/or hormones by hiding or discarding medication, preventing the trans person from seeing the doctor (i.e. taking away the car or withholding money), or creating other barriers that prevent the trans person from receiving medical attention;
- Hiding or throwing away accessories or clothing items that a trans person uses so that the victim's body and gender identity match;
- Touching parts of the trans person’s body in an unwanted way or calling body parts by terms the abuser knows the trans person does not like;
- Justifying sexual abuse by saying that "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 trans person that the victim would “make the LGBTQ community look bad” by coming forward with the abuse;
- Forbidding the trans person from revealing that the victim is transgender or from talking about issues specific to the transgender community with others.1
Despite these challenges, there are places where transgender victims of abuse can find help. 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"