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About Abuse


Updated: September 12, 2018

What does LGBTQIA mean?

LGBTQIA is an abbreviation for:

  • lesbian;
  • gay;
  • bisexual;
  • transgender;
  • queer or questioning;
  • intersex; and
  • asexual.

Lesbian and gay are terms for people who experience sexual attraction to partners of the same gender. Bisexual is a term for people who may experience attraction to partners of multiple genders. These terms describe sexual orientations or sexual identities.1

Transgender or “trans” people have gender identities that in some way do not match the sex they were assigned at birth. This can include people who are:

  • nonbinary (do not identify with either “man” or “woman”);
  • gender nonconforming (do not identify with any gender); or
  • other gender identities that do not fit a binary (man/woman) definition.

A person does not have to have gender confirmation surgery or take gender-specific hormones to be transgender. For example, a trans man could be a person who adults identified as a girl at birth, but who is a boy or man. Being transgender does not necessarily mean someone is also lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. Trans people may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer, or may identify as heterosexual or asexual. To learn more about the trans community, please visit the National Center for Transgender Equality.1

Note: A cisgender or “cis” person is someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Generally, someone born with a penis is assigned “male” or “boy” at birth, while someone born with a vagina is assigned “female” or “girl” at birth. A cis person is someone whose identity matches this assignment.

Queer is an umbrella term that may refer to both sexual identity and gender identity. Someone may refer to their sexual orientation or attraction to people of many genders as being queer. Someone who is queer may also be gender nonconforming, nonbinary, or genderqueer, which may mean they do not identify as any one gender, they identify as multiple genders, or their gender expression falls outside any one category. For more information on the difference between gender identity and gender expression, please see the Human Rights Campaign’s page “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions.”1

Intersex is a general term used to refer to someone whois born with reproductive or sexual body parts that don’t seem to fit the typical definition of “male” or “female.” For instance, an intersex person may have a penis, but also have a uterus or ovaries, or be born with genitals that are not clearly defined as a penis or vagina.2

Asexual describes someone who does not experience sexual attraction or desire for anyone of any sex or gender.1

1 Glossary of Terms,” Human Rights Campaign
2What is intersex,” Intersex Society of North America

How common is domestic violence in the LGBTQIA community?

The rate of domestic violence and statistics about abuse within the LGBTQ community are difficult to determine because of the high number of unreported cases. However, the 2010 National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey found that 44% of lesbian women, 61% of bisexual women, 26% of gay men, and 37% of bisexual men experience domestic violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.1 One study shows that 30-50% of all transgender people experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.2

Despite similar rates of domestic violence in the LGBTQ community compared to the cisgender and heterosexual community, LGBTQ people face barriers to leaving abusive relationships that cisgender and heterosexual victims often do not. Domestic violence is most commonly thought of as something that happens to cis women and is committed by cis men. Therefore, most services are geared towards helping cisgender heterosexual women, which can make LGBTQ victims feel isolated and misunderstood.

Note: Data was only collected for LGBTQ individuals in the cited materials. Data for intersex and asexual individuals was not available at the time of writing.

1 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence in 2014,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2 Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Abuse Among LGBT People - A Review of Existing Research,” The Williams Institute