OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Sexual Assault Victims
michael munson, Loree Cook-Daniels  -  2014/6/25
My organizations deal with missing and exploited children and youth. Could you please address the additional vulnerabilities of LGBTQ youth to grooming and luring via online interactions? Many times I think LGBTQ youth are more vulnerable to exploitation and assault because their life circumstances are so poor and they turn to anyone who seems to offer attention, affection, or "love.'
1.  Cook-Daniels
 Pt 2 of 2: Therefore a proven prevention tool is the materials produced by the Family Acceptance Project about how parents and guardians can better interact with their LGBT children so that those children do not feel rejected or broken even if the parents do not approve of their sexuality or gender identity. You can access their multimedia resources at http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/home
2.  Cook-Daniels
 Pt 1 of 2: We do know that children who are seeking attention, validation, and love are more vulnerable to predators who seem to offer those basics than are children who are surrounded by loving adults. Because there is still so much homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in our society, many parents and guardians either reject their LGBT children outright (often leading them to live on the streets) or, in a misguided attempt to "save" them, attempt to persuade them one way or another not to be LGBT. We now know, due to the phenomenal work by the Family Acceptance Project, that the latter behavior is actually interpreted by the LGBT child as rejection, leading to increased vulnerability to both sexual abuse and such health risks as suicide, drug abuse, etc.
3.  michael munson
 LGBTQ youth face many additional layers of vulnerability, including being homeless, engaging in survival sex or other street economies. In part, because of their survival needs, they are at increased risk of sexual assault, street-based violence, and hate-motivated behaviors. We do not specialize in youth and our focus is central to transgender survivors and the victim service providers who serve them. Other agencies that focus on youth may be more able to help you.
I am wondering what is the best practices in making your organization known as an LBGTQ safe organization? Also what are ways in which an advocate can let the LBGTQ community know that an advocate is available as a resource.
1.  michael munson
 Intangible areas that are included are: organizational culture, existing reputation, name of the agency (if it indicates that women are the primary clients), involvement at transgender events, developing joint projects with transgender organizations, community partnerships, training, active monitoring of attitudes and tone, client/staff language and interactions, out T/LGB staff, and tracking T/LGB clients.
2.  michael munson
 Tangible areas that are reviewed include: forms and paperwork, bathroom options and accessibility, advertising and publicity, displayed materials, referrals, visible feedback and complaint mechanisms.
3.  michael munson
 You may also be interested in a checklist FORGE created: "Is Your Agency Ready to Serve Transgender Survivors?" available at http://forge-forward.org/wp-content/docs/trans-welcoming-checklist.pdf The checklist highlights both tangible and intangible ways agencies can create a more accessible environment.
4.  michael munson
 Great question. Many organizations want to make their space safer and more welcoming to T and LGBQ individuals. FORGE has an archived webinar "Creating a Trans-Welcoming Environment" - available at http://forge-forward.org/event/trans-welcoming-environment/ -- that details many ways an agency can become more accessible to trans clients.
It has been my experience that many times in correctional settings transgender and gender non-conforming residents are forced into pseudo-relationships in which they are sexually exploited and abused in exchange for protection from the institutions resident population as a whole. Upon release, these individuals suffer profound feelings of shame and self-hate because in their eyes they consented to the sexual abuse. These feelings foster a profound sense of victimhood that continues to in their own minds indefinitely. What can be done to help cases like these?
1.  michael munson
 FORGE held a webinar on "Working with Trans Survivors of Sexual Assault in Detention" with guests Chris Daley from Just Detention International, Bamby Salcedo, Valerie Spencer. Although your question isn't directly addressed in this webinar, many components and threads of your question are embedded within the content of this training. It's available online at http://forge-forward.org/event/detention-sexual-assault/
2.  Cook-Daniels
 One of the things FORGE works hard to do is put trans experience within the overall HUMAN experience. What you are describing is common for anyone abused in prison, and for many sexual assault survivors abused outside of prison. I like to remind people that shame is sexually transmitted from the person who SHOULD be feeling it (because they acted badly) to the person they victimized. It's an STI they need to cure, not something that belongs to them.
3.  michael munson
 Great question. Detention settings can pose many challenges and people often survive in the best ways they can while in correctional settings. The after effects of "relationships" while in correctional settings that might be abusive or manipulative likely will need the same care and attention as any other "relationship" that has been abusive. Therapy, support groups, and other shame-reducing support will be helpful in these cases (and for people with non-correctional experiences).
What are the percentages for offender relationship to survivor for this population?
1.  Cook-Daniels
 In 2004, FORGE's survey of transgender sexual violence survivors found in terms of perpetrators: Two hundred and two respondents gave information about their perpetrator(s). The largest category of perpetrators – 40% (N = 80) – were family members. “Someone else you knew” made up 35% of perpetrators (71). Intimate partners were the abusers 29% of the time (59), with an additional 20% (40) assaulted by “a date.” A quarter of the perpetrators (50) were strangers. Twelve of the perpetrators (6%) were health care or social service providers, and ten (5%) were police officers. Fifty-one perpetrators (25%) fell into a category other than the above.
Can you speak to how SA advocates can a) help advocate for trans survivors at the hospital (i.e. use of preferred pronouns, etc) and b) maintain collegial interactions with other professionals who may not be aware of these issues. Thank you!
1.  Jennifer
 Thanks so much for your response! I will definitely take a look at those resources. I'm also wondering if you can also shed light on how we might be able to have conversations with folks who work outside of our agency (i.e. medical professionals or law enforcement) while we're at the hospital with a trans survivor, if we perceive that those other professionals may not be sensitive to the needs of trans survivors. For example, would it be more helpful or harmful to draw another professional's attention to things like using preferred pronouns or offering gender-specific clothing if they are not doing so?
2.  michael munson
 Webinars that might be of particular interest include : * Trans 101 for Victim Service Providers -- http://forge-forward.org/event/trans101-sept2013/ * Forensic exams and transgender sexual assault survivors (with guest Kim Day, IAFN and Eric Stiles, NSVRC) -- Learn more: http://forge-forward.org/event/forensic-exams/ * Creating a Trans-Welcoming-Environment -- http://forge-forward.org/event/trans-welcoming-environment/
3.  michael munson
 One way we are encouraging staff with diverse backgrounds and knowledge about transgender issues and people, is to hold staff meetings during which all staff view one of our webinars -- perhaps a Trans 101 or one that is specific to victim service providers. After viewing, people can have a discussion and share their ideas, practices, feelings, and ideally reach a place where everyone feels more comfortable and confident in serving transgender clients.
4.  michael munson
 Pronouns -- as you clearly know -- are an essential piece of showing respect for trans people (and all people!). We encourage people to ask every client what name and pronoun they wish to be called. Sometimes trans people use gender neutral pronouns, such as "ze" or the singular "they." For a handy conjugation chart, please check out: http://forge-forward.org/wp-content/docs/gender-neutral-pronouns1.pdf
I am interested in learning ways to educate my campus on the strengths and needs of the transgender community. I am at an institution in the south and there is a great deal of ignorance in general around transgender men and women. What would you suggest we do first to inform our campus?
1.  Carol Taylor
 We have not but that is something we will certainly take into consideration. Thank you!
2.  Cook-Daniels
 Re: getting trans students involved...have you tried marketing to "genderqueers" or some other non-binary group? In Milwaukee, our younger group is more attracted to that name.
3.  Carol Taylor
 Thank you! We can use this as part of our programming for student leaders of these organizations.
4.  michael munson
 Even though this reference is about victim service agencies, you may find benefit in viewing FORGE's Creating a Trans-Welcoming-Environment webinar. It has many suggestions for how to create an overall environment that is welcoming of many different types of genders, gender identities and may stimulate some ideas for you. The archived webinar is at: http://forge-forward.org/event/trans-welcoming-environment/
5.  Carol Taylor
 Our student orgs are struggling with getting transgender students to join. How do we do targeted recruitment for them in meaningful and genuine way? We don't want to them to be involved just so we can say we have them. We have to be responsive and supportive to them and really be of service to them.
6.  Cook-Daniels
 I agree with michael munson that the best way to approach this question is by partnering with LGBT students and empowering them to do peer education. They might do a play, have a speaker, do a speak-out, show films, have a social media event of some sort...there are endless ideas. For professionals, FORGE's online webinars might be good. You can find them at www.forge-forward.org
7.  Carol Taylor
 We have five different orgs for LGBTQ* students but even they struggle to be welcoming and inclusive of transgender women and men. What can we do to change that? Also how do we convinced our policy makers to include gender identity and gender expression in the policies related to healthcare coverage and basic protections on campus for students?
8.  michael munson
 Campus life seems to be a world of its own -- with some campuses being much more progressive and others, as it sounds like yours is, being a little behind the times. If your campus has an LGBT student group, that might be the best place to start. There are also many new initiatives -- with the Department of Education's response to the newly reauthorized Violence Against Women Act -- and how they are encouraging campuses to respond to sexual assault.
Our agency has provided a women's-only sexual assault support group for the past 20 years (inclusive of transwomen) and only recently began also facilitating a mens sexual assault support group as well. Do you have any advice on creating a trans-inclusive non-gender specific support group? How can we help all folks feel safer and included? So many cis-women express feeling unsafe around cis-men due to trauma so I worry about creating a group that is for everyone.
1.  michael munson
 FORGE focuses on how to create spaces that honor shared experiences (e.g. people in the group have experienced sexual violence and are seeking a place to heal) and dispel myths (e.g. that all men are dangerous or that women cannot be abusive). Creating safety isn't necessarily about excluding some people from a support group, but is more about defining what kinds of behaviors are expected within the group.
2.  michael munson
 Great job on being inclusive of trans women in your women-only support groups AND on beginning a men's group, too! In general, we encourage agencies to consider creating groups that aren't necessarily segregated by gender -- since these groups often can and do create painful challenges for both trans and non-trans survivors (for example for survivors who had a female perpetrator).
3.  Cook-Daniels
 As a culture, we have unfortunately created a widespread belief that women as a class should be afraid of men as a class. Breaking down this cultural norm is not going to be easy, but I believe it's necessary. I would suggest you stress that it's a group for *victims/survivors* and that you start with and frequently revisit exercises that emphasize commonalities among all survivors rather than commonalities based upon gender.
If a person was sexually assaulted as a youth prior to even realizing that they are transgender or genderqueer/ gender nonconforming, how will that affect them as an adult? Are there ways to deal with this as a non-counselor?
1.  michael munson
 This can pose some interesting challenges for *some* transgender/gender non-conforming people. For many, it is difficult to feel comfortable disclosing a history of being abused/assaulted as a gender different than how they might be presenting now. In some cases, it "forces" them to disclose their transgender status, which may not be desirable for some survivors and/or may add layers of fear about if their trans status may be something the provider may be discriminatory about. Creating an open and welcoming environment in your interactions (and in your agency) will help trans survivors (of all kinds) be more likely to talk about and seek support.
2.  Cook-Daniels
 Every survivor is going to have their own issues to deal with; there is no one answer to your question. The scenario you have, however, could lead the person to wonder if they are trans BECAUSE they were sexually assaulted. It's important to let them know that the two are not necessarily related. A counselor might be able to go more deeply into teasing apart the issues, but I'd say a non-counselor should focus on the fact the two (sexual assault and being transgender) happen totally separate from each other as well as both happening to the same person. They aren't necessarily related.
Similar to the question regarding hospitals and SA advocacy for survivors- how can SA or DV advocates best serve survivors when interacting with the courts or law enforcement? And have you had any positive outcomes in shifting the response of law enforcement and/or courts towards transgender survivors?
1.  Cook-Daniels
 The Department of Justice's Community Relations Service earlier this year rolled out a training program for law enforcement officers on working with transgender people. I can't find a direct link to the training itself, but here's the link to CRS: http://www.justice.gov/crs/
2.  michael munson
 The newly released OVC toolkit -- which FORGE partnered with OVC in creating -- has sections throughout that focus on Law Enforcement and specific issues related to transgender communities and survivors. You can find the toolkit (Responding to Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault) at http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/index.html
3.  michael munson
 It continues to be challenging to work with law enforcement, since transgender people often face both discrimination and abusive behavior from some LE. There is a new training tool for law enforcement officers on transgender issues, which can be helpful in helping reduce LE stereotypes and increase sensitive behavior towards transgender people they encounter.
I work in a DV shelter that only houses women and children; men are housed at a different location. I wonder how a gender-neutral/intersex individual would fare under such rules? Are there any noted instances in which a person who happened to be gender-neutral/intersex needed shelter from DV or SA?
1.  Stacy Edwards
 Thank you for all the info! I am definitely going to bring up the issue regarding gender-neutral/intersex individuals at our staff meeting today.
2.  Samantha
 Great thank you so much for your input and suggestions!
3.  Cook-Daniels
 Re: making a women-only shelter more inclusive of trans people: trans men may feel their masculinity is undermined if they are offered shelter in a women-only shelter, although some will accept this if it's the only place they can be safe/have a roof over their head. Trans women can definitely be made welcome in women's shelters. Check out FORGE's webinar on sex segregated services, which focuses in large part on a transwoman in shelter: http://forge-forward.org/event/sex-segregated-services/
4.  michael munson
 pt 5bc. (continued OVW FAQ re sex-segregated services: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/faqs-ngc-vawa.pdf) "For the purpose of assigning a [survivor] to sex-segregated or sex-specific services, best practices dictate that the [agency] recipient should ask a transgender [survivor] which group or service the [survivor] wishes to join. The [agency] may not, however, ask questions about the [survivor's] anatomy or medical history or make burdensome demands for identity documents"
5.  michael munson
 pt 5b. "[An agency] that operates a sex-segregated or sex-specific program should assign a [survivor] to the group or service which corresponds to the gender with which the [survivor] identifies.... In deciding how to house a victim, [an agency] that provides sex-segregated housing may consider on a case-by-case basis whether a particular housing assignment would ensure the victim’s health and safety. A victim’s own views with respect to personal safety deserve serious consideration. The [agency] should ensure that its services do not isolate or segregate victims based upon actual or perceived gender identity." http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/faqs-ngc-vawa.pdf
6.  michael munson
 pt 5a. The Frequently Asked Questions document: "Nondiscrimination Grant Condition in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013." discusses how an agency can operate a sex-segregated or sex-specific service without discriminating on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity.
7.  michael munson
 pt 4. From the FAQ from OVW (available online at: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/faqs-ngc-vawa.pdf) Trans survivors should not be asked about their body (for example, if they are taking hormones, if they have had surgery of any type, etc.) or asked invasive questions (such as how long they have been living as a woman, etc.). Agencies should also not make burdensome demands for identity documents (in other words, agencies should be consistent in the types of documents they ask for of any client and should not require trans women to provide additional documentation or proof of their gender identity).
8.  michael munson
 pt 3. If there is a choice of a gendered facility or all-gender shelter, ask the survivor which facility she/he/ze would like to be housed in. Placement in sex-segregated programs should correspond with how the survivor identifies their gender.
9.  michael munson
 pt 2. The Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women has new non-discrimination provisions that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Both the new non-discrimination provisions in the Reauthorization of VAWA and the cultural shift in awareness about transgender individuals and that sexual assault and IPV can and does happen to people of all genders are leading more and more shelters to revisit their entrance requirements and procedures.
10.  Cook-Daniels
 As a field we have not begun to address the looming issue of how our sex-segregated system is going to deal with people who do not identify as either male or female. The new FAQs that the Office on Violence Against Women issued about gender identity non-discrimination only address trans people who identify as either male or female, saying their gender identity should control. Non-binary people should be given a choice for now which sex they want to be served with, but over the long haul, I think a sex-segregated system is going to ill serve gender neutral/intersex survivors.
11.  michael munson
 pt 1. This is a particularly challenging issue. When people do not identify as one of two binary genders (male or female), where and how to place individuals can be very painful and limiting. MANY gender non-conforming, and non-binary gendered people seek shelter -- or need or want to access shelter. Many have been turned away because shelters are unsure of where to place these survivors.
12.  Samantha
 My question is somewhat similar. I also work in a DV/SA shelter that houses women and children. I was wondering what your thoughts were on how to make this environment more inclusive for the trans community? Or because our shelter is considered to be for women and children, if you believe this may create an uncomfortable scenario for people who identify as trans?
Can you please discuss or refer us to resources that talk about work with young transgender people who have faced homelessness and engaged in survival sex or other street economies?
1.  michael munson
 Transgender youth experience disproportionately high rates of homelessness -- and, as you note, often engage in survival sex and other street economies in order to stay alive. Youth and homelessness is not an area where we focus, so my response is limited. You might be interested in FORGE's archived webinar on The Intersection of Sex work and Violence, with guest presenter Claudine O'Leary. http://forge-forward.org/event/sex-work-and-violence/
2.  Cook-Daniels
 The Center for American Progress has done quite a bit of work on this issue: http://americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2010/06/21/7980/gay-and-transgender-youth-homelessness-by-the-numbers/ ...There is also this guide: Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with LGBT Youth who are Homeless or at Risk of Becoming Homeless http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Durso-Gates-LGBT-Homeless-Youth-Survey-July-2012.pdf
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