Sexual assault risk higher for trans women of colour, new study finds

Date: Jul 09, 2020

Sexual harassment, assault and abuse impact certain communities disproportionately, making it a primary concern for disadvantaged populations. New research from Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS) uncovered disheartening sexual violence trends for trans women of colour, specifically.

Relative to women of other nationalities, ethnicities and identity, trans women of colour from "culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds" (CALD) are likelier to experience sexual harassment – about 20% more, in fact. Whilst the majority of women who reported instances of sexual assault to researchers stated they had been victims of such crimes on more than one occasion, trans women of colour reported being sexually assaulted 10 or more times – about twice as often as the general rate for cisgendered women.

A range of persistent physical and verbal threats

The study's findings speak volumes about the state of trans affairs in Australia and globally. It also highlights the disconcerting criminality levied upon individuals who often have fewer resources, face greater societal obstacles and must confront continued sexual and gender stigmas.

Adding to the confluence of discriminatory factors that trans women experience, those who are immigrants or are non-native speakers are typically even more likely to experience sexual assault – with even less opportunity for redress. Both at home and in public spaces, the experience of trans women of colour is "poorly understood," as the study's authors explained.

"This research demonstrates that the absence of culturally competent information and knowledge about transgender experience, accompanied by misinformation, can lead to stigma, prejudice and discrimination," said Dr. Heather Nancarrow, the CEO of ANROWS.

ABC news relayed the story of Kalypso Finbar, a trans woman who moved to Sydney eight years ago. Even in the online space, men have made serious violent threats on Kalypso's life, a reality that they admitted there "was nothing [they] could do about it."

As Trans Pride Australia founder Peta Friend noted, statistics on sexual violence against women don't always accurately portend the full extent of threats, abuse and discrimination specifically faced by trans women, according to ABC News.

With Australia reporting more than 80,000 cases of sexual assault per year, only about one-third of victims actually go to the police. Victims of sexual violence can speak with the legal experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners to see if they have grounds for a claim under the National Redress System, or to pursue civil claims against their attackers or the institutions that fostered harmful environments and made abuse possible.

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