Closing the gap in sexual violence disparities

Public servants and resource centers should work to understand issues facing LGBT communities.

Daily Editorial Board

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Daily reported on gaping disparities in resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The lack of access to resources for these individuals needs to be corrected, especially when more people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence than those who identify as straight.

Even more striking are the rates of sexual violence against transgender individuals — 64 percent of whom have reported being sexually assaulted within their lifetime.

Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence whose gender identity does not match their physical appearance or are not heterosexual face additional obstacles when reporting crimes and seeking help.

For example, domestic violence centers are typically geared toward females only. Responding officers or exam nurses might wrongly assume the gender identity or sexual orientation of a victim. Or when same-sex domestic violence is reported, sometimes the wrong partner is arrested.

Thankfully, there are people in the state at OutFront Minnesota and the Twin Cities Sexual Violence Center, among others, working to address these differences and educate resource centers, law enforcement and medical staff on how to best accommodate these individuals in their time of need.

Sexual and domestic violence can affect individuals regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. We must work to increase access to services for all those who need it.