This is the article that appeared in the October 2023 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.
The Biden administration’s foster care proposal, which seeks to limit the rights of foster parents with trans children, says not a word about a very serious issue, namely the propriety of allowing transgender couples to adopt children. Quite frankly, the history of violence within this segment of the population—assaulting each other—is so serious that it makes no sense not to address this issue. Indeed, it is delinquent not to do so.
Throughout the proposal, there are several references to safety in the home, as in, “each child must receive a placement that is safe.” It says quite clearly that “hostility, mistreatment, or abuse” will not be tolerated.
Surely the administration must know about the legacy of violence that plagues the trans community, but if it doesn’t, it should. The evidence is startling, and it is mounting.
It’s not always easy to find data on this issue, but there are a number of studies on “intimate partner violence” (IPV) that are enlightening. IPV refers to violence committed by someone who is intimately involved with his or her partner, regardless of marital, sexual orientation or gender status.
Let’s look at some early data and make our way forward.
“The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey,” published by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that with regard to trans adults, “More than half (54%) of respondents have experienced some form of intimate partner violence. More than one-third (35%) experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, compared to 30% of the U.S. adult population. Nearly a quarter (24%) experienced severe physical violence by a current or former partner, compared with 18% of the U.S. population.”
Also in 2015, the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law, published a report that reviewed 42 studies on IPV among LGBT people. The one study that “directly compared the lifetime prevalence of IPV among transgender and cisgender people” [those who accept their biologically determined sex] found that “31.1% of transgender people and 20.4% of cisgender people had ever experienced IPV or dating violence.” Of the three studies on lifetime violence among trans persons, between “25.0% to 47.0%” report being victimized.
In 2019, researchers from Syracuse University and the University of Maryland, College Park, published their findings on sexual and gender minority youth and found that they “disproportionately experience intimate partner violence,” as well as higher rates of drug use as compared with “cisgender heterosexual youth.”
A study by seven experts published in 2020 in the American Journal of Public Health on this subject found that “Transgender individuals experience dramatically higher prevalence of IPV victimization compared with cisgender individuals, regardless of sex assigned at birth.” In fact, “Transgender people are 1.7 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime compared to cisgender people,” and are “2.2 times more likely to experience physical IPV.” Worse, “Sexual intimate partner violence is even more prevalent, as trans people experience it about 2.5 times more than cis people.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reviewed the literature on domestic violence in the LGBT community, and in 2018 it published its results. It found that the prevalence of IPV was comparatively higher for this community than it is among heterosexuals who accept their status as a male or female. Regarding trans persons, the situation is worse. They suffer “an even greater burden of intimate partner violence than gay or lesbian individuals.”
The Portland Monthly did a story on this issue in 2020, and after consulting the work of several experts, it concluded that “statistically speaking, the most common perpetrators of violence against trans women are domestic partners.”
In 2021, another study by the Williams Institute concluded that “Transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.”
In 2023, four authors of a study on IPV among transgender and gender diverse people found that “between 42 and 62 percent” of them experience some type of IPV. The prevalence of IPV is considerably higher with this sector of the population than it is with others.
The Biden administration appears to be oblivious to these alarming statistics. Indeed, whenever it addresses violence in the trans community, it leads the public to think that it is those who are not part of this group—which means everyone else—are responsible for the violence against them.
The raw truth of the matter is that trans persons who are intimately involved with their partner are victimizing each other. It is not frat boys roaming the streets of trans neighborhoods who are committing the violence against trans persons—they are doing it to themselves.
Those in government, the health profession, education, and the media are not telling the public the truth. Indeed, they are involved in a cover-up; their deceit is appalling.
If the Biden administration is truly interested in the safety and wellbeing of trans children in foster care homes, it should be wary of placing them in settings where the parents are trans adults.