Breaking Free: Transgender people are nearly twice as likely to experience intimate partner violence

Sexual intimate partner violence is even more prevalent for transgender people compared to cisgender individuals.

Sexual intimate partner violence is even more prevalent for transgender people compared to cisgender individuals.

HOUSTON – Stories of violence against transgender people in Houston are not uncommon but for a transgender woman, who KPRC 2 isn’t identifying, the violence came from the people she least expected.

“I’ve been through a lot,” she said. “I was too embarrassed to tell anybody.”

The continuous abuse came from two partners at different times. Photos she shared show cuts and scrapes on her face and lips after one attack.

Other abuse included drugging then raping, beating, and one fight that ended in her being held at knifepoint. The repeated attacks left her feeling used and empty.

“The fantasy of being with a woman like me is never love, it’s lust,” she said. “I’ve never been on a date, I don’t know what it feels like to date, I never had a relationship outside of my household.”

Transgender people are 1.7 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime compared to cisgender people, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. Sexual intimate partner violence is even more prevalent, as trans people experience it about 2.5 times more than cis people.

But still, trans people face an uphill battle getting help in Texas, particularly in rural areas, where no statewide protections for them exist.

“The resources are limited and then when they try to access it, it is like they get revictimized, retraumatized just by the system that’s supposed to be there to help them,” said Angelic Setchell, anti-violence program specialist for The Montrose Center.

According to the Trans Lifeline, The Montrose Center is one of two places in Texas that offer domestic violence support specifically tailored to the transgender community. The nonprofit says several domestic violence facilities are not trans-inclusive, and trans people should check with shelters and homes for inclusive policies.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) said the best resources are created by the community, for the community. But even with help, trans people still face discrimination.

“We’re talking about a level of radical empathy that needs to take place in the ways that we support trans and gender-expansive people,” said Gin Pham, communications and outreach manager for TENT. “While a lot of the same types of violence occurs (between trans and cis people) ... we also need to talk about the discrimination and the oppression that happens in a combination of when we’re seeking out those kinds of (domestic violence) resources.”

While advocates say resources for transgender people are growing in Texas, there’s still a lot of dehumanization they face in all aspects of life, even when getting help in domestic violence situations.

For the Houston transgender woman who endured abuse from both partners, even her darkest days didn’t slow her down.

“You can’t go to the hospital; you cannot miss work. Like, you have to go to work because you have to provide a living for yourself,” she said she would tell herself, despite being injured in ways seen and not.

While scarred, she has now broken free of her violent past after realizing her life was on the line.

“It changed my outlook on relationships and my friendships -- I don’t trust people,” she said. “It’s better to speak up than like end up in a moment where it’s too late.”

The Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860.

Breaking Free Stories:

KPRC 2 presents a special weeklong series on escaping and ending domestic violence

Breaking Free: Prosecuting domestic violence cases

Breaking Free: Officials seeing increase in domestic violence among senior couples

Ask Amy show notes: Planning your escape - Financial and legal 101

Breaking Free: Tow-A-Way domestic violence

Breaking Free: Domestic violence in the LGBTQ community

Breaking Free: Men in abusive relationships

Breaking Free: 3 women die in same week after jumping, exiting moving vehicles during possible domestic disturbances

Breaking Free: The push to de-stigmatize domestic abuse in Houston’s South Asian community

Breaking Free: Helping African Americans de-stigmatize abuse, learn to ask the right questions

Breaking Free: Some abusers using dating apps as increasingly popular way to meet victims, studies show

About the Author:

Bryce Newberry joined KPRC 2 in July 2022. He loves the thrill of breaking news and digging deep on a story that gets people talking.