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Serving Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault
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June 2014
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Gender Identity and Sexual Assault

People may assume that being visibly transgender or having a transgender history is a direct cause of sexual assault. There is some truth to this: A number of murders of transgender people (particularly transgender women of color) have taken place when new sexual partners "discover" their sexual partners were assigned male at birth and/or have a penis.18 This should not be used to blame transgender victims of assault. It is more accurate to observe that anti-transgender bias motivated the assault—not the gender or genitals of the victim.

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Some hate crimes and murders have included genital mutilation and sexual assault. One person reported a workplace rape related to the victim's transgender identity: "My close friend was sexually assaulted at work because he was trans. His job discouraged him to [sic] report it and fired him a week later."19 In other cases, perpetrators may be motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with the victim's perceived or actual gender.

When asked, "Was gender a contributing factor in the abuse/assault?" 29 percent of respondents to FORGE's 2005 survey said no, 42 percent said yes, 21 percent were unsure or didn't remember, and 8 percent gave other responses.20 It is contextually important to note that some respondents appear to believe that sexual assault only happens to women or people perceived to be female:

All of the unwanted/persuaded sexual contact in my life has been directly because of my being seen as female-and-sexually-attractive, and this is a very strong contributing factor in my renouncing female identity altogether (no matter what declared orientation), as many straight men simply do not get the clue and assume that any personable demeanor is an invitation for their advances.21