What is violence against trans women?
Trans women, or transgender women, are women whose gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. 
While gender-based violence affects all women (across the world, 1 in 3 (35%) of women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime) , the criminalisation of trans women in many places in the world, institutionalised bias and social stigma means they experience further threats of violence, denial of basic human rights, and arbitrary arrest by authorities and prosecution for sex work, cross dressing and consensual same-sex relations.
Types of violence against trans women
Violence against trans women comes in many forms. Trans women experience the same types of violence as cis women, and additional forms of discrimination and violence including, but not limited to:
- Institutional medical violence, including coercive sterilisation and other unwanted medical procedures, forced confinement in psychiatric institutions in order to attain legal gender recognition. 
- Higher incidences of vulnerabilities related to hate-motivated injury, torture and murder. 
- Human rights violations, including denial of healthcare, education, work and housing, and access to bathrooms. 
- Verbal, physical and sexual assault, including from family members, because of gender identity or expression. 
- Workplace harassment (verbal, physical and/or sexual assault), exclusion and significantly lower earnings because of gender identity or expression. 
- Gender-based violence during incarceration, including trans women prisoners being housed with the cis-men-identifying population, prohibited from preferred gender expression, denied access to undergarments and subject to unsafe frisking by authorities. 
The causes of violence against trans women
The factors or reasons that cause violence against trans women are complex, and include:
- Culturally enforced gender binaries and stereotypes: Trans women representing challenges to the stereotyped tropes of hegemonic normalised masculinity. In many cultures, especially traditional Western ones, manifesting femininity as a male is highly stigmatised. 
- Religion-driven bigotry: Cultural and religious ostracisation in societies where religion is a powerful force. In such societies, transgender people, especially trans women, often exist on the peripheries of society and though they may be legally recognised are not socially recognised at all, and may be subject to religion-sanctioned discrimination and violence. 
- Structural discrimination: Discriminatory national legal frameworks that denounce and criminalise same-sex conduct, secret prostitution and violation of “public morality”. The root causes of the inability to access formalised employment in society are not addressed.
- Institutionalised and institutional discrimination (including conscious and unconscious transphobia of service providers and authorities) and social exclusion, compounded by normalised family abuse. This means that domestic violence survived by trans women remains largely muted. 
- Severe economic hardship and instability: High unemployment rates (due to difficulties in securing a job because of discrimination) leading to homelessness, which leaves trans women more vulnerable to violence. For example, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey showed that 30% of respondents experienced homelessness at some point in their lifetime, and this percentage rises significantly among people of colour (POC).
Some hard facts about violence against trans women
Here are some examples of violence against trans women in several countries. Please note that the lack of investment in data collection on violence against and killings of LGBTQ+ women, discrimination, fear of further violence, family “honour”, threats of blackmail, misgendering of victims and other factors contribute to gross underreporting of violence against trans women around the world: 
- In the US: Trans women experience significantly higher levels of sexual abuse and assault than other groups (including cis women), and sexual violence is even higher in some subpopulations, including transgender youth, trans women of colour, individuals living with disabilities, homeless individuals and those involved in the sex trade. 
- In Lebanon: The abuse and arbitrary arrest of trans women refugees and asylum seekers at checkpoints and detention centres by security officials has become routine. 
- In Pakistan: Trans women are disproportionately victims of abduction, rape, “honour” killings, blackmail and murder on the streets and in their homes. 
- In Uganda: Trans women experience disproportionate abuse at the hands of their partners and even healthcare providers, and disproportionate online abuse and cyberbullying, including death threats.
- In the European Union: Trans women are more discriminated against and face higher than aerage violence and threats of violence because of being perceived as trans and are more discriminated against when looking for a job or at work than other LGBTQ groups, including trans men. 
The consequences of violence against trans women
Discrimination, stigma and bias when accessing healthcare means that trans women:
- are more at risk of HIV transmission, poor mental health, and suicide. 
- are less likely to have access to medical insurance. 
- face institutional violence and lack of access to their medical records. In some instances, medical insurance does not cover medical needs that may be life saving for instersex or trans women. 
The prevention of trans women’s participation in economic, political and social spheres through the:
- The disruption of young trans women’s education
- The jeopardisation of trans women’s economic independence because of the employment and housing discrimination putting pressure on public social systems (including healthcare systems). 
- “Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTQ+) Women”, United Nations Free & Equal
- “Violence against women”, World Health Organization
- “2015 US Transgender Survey”, U.S Trans Survey
- “Know Your Rights: Laws, Court Decisions, and Advocacy Tips to Protect Transgender Prisoners”, American Civil Liberties Union, National Center for Lesbian Rights
- “Four Years to Live: On Violence Against Trans Women of Color”, Huffpost
- “Exploring the Nexus of Religion and Gender and Sexual Minorities”, United States Institute of Peace
- “Still Hidden in the Closet: Trans Women and Domestic Violence”, VAWnet
- “Responding to Transgender Victims of Assault”, Office for Victims of Crime
- “Don’t Punish Me for Who I Am: Systemic Discrimination Against Transgender Women in Lebanon”, Human Rights Watch
- “Pakistan’s transgender women protest against rising tide of violence”, The Guardian
- “Fighting transphobia and violence one social media post at a time”, UNAIDS
- “Being Trans in the EU”, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
- “Transgender People, The Gap Report 2014”, UNAIDS
- “Gender-based violence: lesbian and transgender women face the highest risk but get the least attention”, World Bank Blogs
- “Ending Abuse of Transgender Prisoners”, National Center for Transgender Equality
- “2020 Global AIDS Update”, UNAIDS
- “Trans-specific Power and Control Tactics”, FORGE
- “Trans women pose no threat to cis women, but we pose a threat to them if we make them outcasts”, The Guardian
- “Stop Killing Us: Black Transgender Women’s Lived Experiences”, Complex News
Resources for Trans Women
- No More Foundation’s page on domestic violence in the transgender community – Information about how to support the transgender community and survivors of violence, and useful safety tools for the transgender community (mostly U.S).
- GLAAD’s resource transgender resources page – FAQs and information about transgender issues, including tips and resources for the media.
- United Nations Free & Equal factsheet on Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Intersex and Queer (LGBTQ+) Women – Information about global LGBTQ+ issues, including recommendations on how individuals and governments can take action to prevent and stop violence.
- The UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity’s article The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons, including a comprehensive list of links to statements, press releases and other communications about gender identity from around the world.
- King County Trans Resource & Referral Guide – list of housing and shelter providers in the U.S.
Video Credits and Further Viewing