Violence affects us all. We all do not, however, experience violence the same way. Race, Class, Gender, Ability, Sexuality all intersect with each and compound how one experiences violence. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex population faces social and legal barriers to services as well as difficulties rising from a movement individually and collectively finding it’s identity and doing it from scratch.
From the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault fact sheet Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered (LGBT) Populations and Sexual Assault
- In a study of 162 gay men and 111 lesbians, 52% reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by same sex partners. Gay men experienced 1.6 incidents per person; while lesbians experienced 1.2 incidents per person.
- Studies over the past two decades on lesbian sexual violence show a range from a low of 5% to a high of 57% of respondents claiming they had experienced attempted or completed sexual assault or rape by another woman, with most studies finding rates of over 30%.
- Men living with male intimate partners experience more intimate partner violence than do men living with female intimate partners. 15% of men who lived with a man as a couple reported being raped/assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant.
Sexual Violence Against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) Individuals
- In a sample of 412 university students, 16.9% of the subjects reported that they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual; the remainder identified themselves as heterosexual. Of the lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual subjects 42.4% (30.6% female and 11.8% male) and 21.4% of the heterosexuals (17.8% female and 3.6% male) indicated they had been forced to have sex against their will.
A 1991 study of university students reported that of their sample of gay/bi-sexual students (including both gay men and lesbians) approximately 18% had been victims of rape, approximately 12% had been victims of attempted rape, and approximately 37% had been victims of sexual coercion.
- There were 2,552 reported anti-gay incidents in 1998, of these, 88 were sexual assaults/rapes.
Violence prevention efforts directed at the LGBTQ population have their work cut out for them. Our society must address the rampant homophobia that pervades nearly every image we see. This is a result of homophobia being so closely related to sexism. So, in other words, sexism must be dismantled before homophobia can be eradicated…and vice versa.
Because of nature of LGBTQ challenges to the status quo, prevention efforts must be prepared and inclusive of the micro-level management of the experience of LGBTQ individuals.
One of the inherent difficulties in prevention work in the LGBTQ population is that it is still finding itself. The LGBTQ movement is filled with older generations of activists and individuals who clearly remember what life was like before Stonewall. It is also made up of a younger generation who just asked ‘What’s Stonewall?’ Because of how deeply interwoven gender is, and how tied to it is heterosexism, the LGBTQ movement must start from scratch in finding their individual and collective identity. All this comes while living in a clearly heterosexist and hetero-normative society. They get the exact same messages that we all get; that being gay is ‘gross’ (unless the audience is male and they’re talking about lesbians and they’re HOT! And even then they can be lesbians in name only), that is against the will of God, that they are oversexed, perverts, confused, have ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ issues, and that gay men are pedophiles.
These kinds of messages are a part of the socialization process that we all go through. What this means is that prevention efforts must address internalized homophobia, maintaining homophobic beliefs of larger culture, in addition to external homophobia.
Part of the TQ (Transgender and Queer) movement is the adoption of alternative pronouns. Rather than using the he/she dichotomy, Trans and Queer individuals sometimes use ‘ze’ or ‘hir’ as gender neutral pronouns that work outside the gender binary. Prevention efforts must be familiar with these alternatives and respect their usage.
Transgender individuals face tremendous discrimination and violence. To be Trans-identified means that you have challenged what so many of us hold as perhaps the most concrete personal aspect of our society, that the sex you are born into is concrete. Prevention efforts as a whole need to address gender in order to be effective, but they also must address sex. Many people confuse sex and gender, and/or use them interchangeably. This is incorrect. Sex refers to ones biology and gender refers to ones identity. When prevention efforts fail to address the confusion surrounding sex and gender, it is not only detrimental to Trans and Queer communities, it also hurts LGB and heterosexual individuals. We ALL face gender stereotypes that are hurtful, but when you transcend what so many of us take as holy writ, you face an anger and confusion that is rarely ( if ever) matched.
Prevention must be inclusive of LGTBQ issues and populations. Without addressing everyone, you aren’t helping anyone.