Sexual assault is an issue far too many people face in our society. We have built a rape culture which we surround ourselves with, unknowingly contributing to it daily by enforcing gender norms, telling a small child they have to hug a certain family member or blaming victims of sexual assault. The effects of rape culture are evident between any and all races, ages, identities, genders and orientations; however, they are specifically shocking in the LGBTQ+ community.
On average, LGBTQ+ individuals experience sexual assault at a higher rate than cisgender heterosexual individuals. This is not new. LGBTQ+ individuals have been targeted for decades for our identities. Corrective rape (rape to “correct” one’s orientation or identity) is one example that is widely experienced within the community. LGBTQ+ folks are also generally a target of violence — not just being beaten in the streets, but sexual violence too. Simply living in a red state makes me anxious as a queer individual. I definitely look the part with my short dyed hair and I know I could become a target for a very zealous homophobe. In fact, “44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women.” As a queer femme-bodied individual, this puts me at risk. A lot of the women and femme-bodied people I love and care about are also at risk, especially since most of us are currently on college campuses.
More specifically, transgender individuals are at an extremely high risk for sexual assault. 12% of transgender youth in K-12 settings report being sexually assaulted by peers or educational staff and those are just the reported cases, and only transgender youth. There are undoubtedly more events in which adults abused their power over transgender children and sexually assaulted them.
We can help alleviate these cases. Walking with our LGBTQ+ friends at night, standing up for them in dangerous situations and generally being a better ally can lower the amount of victims. As a femme-bodied person, I get nervous when I’m alone at night and having the added target on my back as a queer person makes it worse. Having someone with me makes me feel much more at ease and assaulters typically look for people who are alone. Keeping an eye out for inappropriate behavior from adults in educational settings acting inappropriately and speaking up about their behavior can prevent them from attacking students. It is essential that we look for assaulters and report them before they harm anyone.