The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer / Questioning (LGBTQ) community is by no means monolithic. The experiences of sexual assault survivors that are queer, transgender, bisexual, gender-variant, lesbian, gay, pansexual, questioning, and/or gender-non-conforming are as unique as each identity.
Homophobia and transphobia in our society create barriers to services for LGBT survivors.
Gendered assumptions impact LGBT folks as much as, if not more so than, heterosexuals. Gender socialization is widespread, internalized, and these assumptions and values come from both outside and within the LGBT community. Myths about who can be assaulted or who perpetrates are prevalent; however, sexual violence can happen to, and be perpetrated by, an individual of any gender or gender identity.
While gender is not a predictor of assault, often individuals are targeted, assaulted, "bashed", and harassed because of, or in connection to, gender identity and/or gender nonconformity. Anti-Violence Programs, 85% of hate crime victims identified as queer or questioning and 20% identified as transgender or gender non-conforming.1The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women experience sexual violence in their lifetime. This same survey found that 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience sexual violence in their lifetime.2
The may be an actual or perceived lack of accessible and competent sexual assault services for LGBT survivors. Marketing, outreach, websites, brochures, logos, and agency names that appear geared toward cisgender women create barriers to services for LGBT survivors. Survivors may even have fear of further violence and harassment from the people they turn to for help.
Where specific services for queer survivors do exist, survivors may still be hesitant to use these services. Queer communities can be small, even in large cities. Seeking services at a queer-identified agency probably precludes the option of anonymity, and may even require interacting with friends of the perpetrator.
Working to end homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism, and cissexism in our communities is also an important way to prevent sexual assault. These oppressions work to dehumanize queer communities. LGBT people are also People of Color, people with disabilities, and people who are oppressed in multiple ways. These oppressions all lead to the objectification of marginalized people, including queer people, and leave communities more vulnerable to violence.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
VAWA 2013 strengthens essential services for LGBT survivors in three key ways.
- The bill ensures that all programs or activities receiving funding from VAWA provide services regardless of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
- It explicitly includes the LGBT community in the largest VAWA grant program, the “STOP Grant Program,” which provides funding to care providers who collaborate with prosecution and law enforcement officials.
- The bill establishes a grant program specifically aimed at providing services and outreach to underserved populations, including those who face obstacles to care based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBTQ Specific Sexual Assault Service Providers in Washington State
- Supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Rural Sexual Violence Survivors, Resource Sharing Project
- Shades of Change, A Guide for Providers Working with LGBT Survivors of Color
- NCAVP (2015). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-affected Hate Violence in 2014 (A Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) New York City Anti-Violence Project
- NISVS (2011). NISVS: An Overview of 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation (The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.