International Transgender Day of Visibility – Domestic Abuse in the Transgender Community

International Transgender Day of Visibility – Domestic Abuse in the Transgender Community

International Transgender Day of Visibility [ITDOV] is an annual awareness day held on the 31st March, dedicated to highlighting the experience of Transgender people and celebrating the Transgender community’s contributions to society.

I dearly hope that this ITDOV is full of positivity and highlights pioneers in the community such as Alan L. Hart, Sylvia Rivera, Lucy Hicks Anderson and Marsha P. Johnson, to name but a handful.  I also hope that those in the position to do so, use today to raise awareness in their own communities, be that at home or at work, to create more Trans-inclusive spaces, promote empathy and to educate.

I would like to use my position at NLS to highlight the Trans experience in one of the Firm’s areas of expertise, domestic abuse.

When we talk about domestic abuse the conversation nearly always divides survivors into two neat categories – women and men.  One group of survivors will then be homogenised and presented in a public medium as having faced near identical challenges and having lived similar experiences.  For example, we ourselves at NLS have talked about how ‘1 in 3’ women have experienced some form of domestic abuse and as concerning yet informative as the statistic is, it is a simplification of a group of survivors who are far more complex.

‘1 in 3’ does not tell the story of minority groups within that number, it does not make us aware of the additional obstacles they face accessing help, seeking safety, or the specific types of domestic abuse only they experience.  Fortunately, there are specialist charities and services in the UK who focus on helping minority survivors, who report statistics and put forward ways the wider service community can help.

For the UK Trans community, the most prominent voices are Galop, SafeLives and Stonewall. Galop for example, is an LGBT+ charity dedicated to supporting LGBT+ survivors of abuse and violence.  It’s the work of these specialist services that help to identify the LGBT+ experience of abuse and pull from their findings information specific to the Trans community.

For example, a 2010 report from LGBT Youth Scotland1, found that 80% of Trans people had experienced domestic abuse from a partner or ex-partner, while Stonewall’s 2019 research2 found that 28% of British Trans people had experienced domestic abuse during 2018, from their current partner.

In Galop’s 2020 report3, they found that from the reviewed dataset, 60% of Trans women and 75% of Trans men had experienced abuse from a male perpetrator, with Trans men experiencing a higher volume of harassment/stalking, verbal and emotional abuse, whereas Trans women disclosed disproportionately high levels of physical, sexual and financial abuse, with both groups experiencing higher volumes of these forms of abuse than the cisgender survivors in the same report.

SafeLives 2021 report4 states that 80% of survivors experienced jealous and controlling behaviour and examines how the deliberate use of incorrect pronouns, body dysphoria and withholding of access to medication and medical treatment are targeted forms of domestic abuse specific to the Trans community.

I could go on. I could quote more reports, provide more figures and statistics and though that helps to highlight heart-breaking facts, it does not give the full picture.  Instead, I would urge you to read these reports yourself, to take ownership of your education of the Trans experience and pass that knowledge on.

By exploring the websites and resources of specialist services like Galop and SafeLives, we can better understand the experiences unique to the Trans community, spark conversation for reform and improvement, better training and support from non-specialist providers so that when we talk about ‘1 in 3’, we acknowledge how complex that figure is and ensure that all survivors, regardless of their background, receive the same considerations, support and access to live safely.

Nick Mepham-Lagrue He/Him – HR Manager

1Roch, A., Ritchie, G. & Morton, J. (2010). Out of sight, out of mind? Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse. Glasgow/Edinburgh: LGBT Youth Scotland, Equality Network/Scottish Transgender Alliance

2Bachman, C. & Gooch, B. (2018). LGBT in Britain: Trans Report. London: Stonewall UK.

3Dr. Jasna Magić, Peter Kelley (2020). LGBT+ People’s Experience of Domestic Abuse: a report on Galop’s domestic abuse advocacy service

4Nicola Stokes (2021) Transgender Victim’s and Survivor’s Experience of Domestic Abuse. SafeLives.

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