Content Warning: sexual assault in trans communities
When it is listed that a marginalized community is more likely to endure violence than their more privileged counterparts, it is rare that we hear the reasons why. “X community is more likely to experience X” is used as a blanket statement for inherent brokenness without an explanation of different factors that could map out solutions of harm reduction. I have believed for a long time that I was broken because of the hyphenated identities that I hold as a nonbinary femme of color. On one end, there is a sense of comfort to know that I’m not alone in that narrative. However, it is not a narrative I want to allow to continue.
Trans people have a deeper history of interpersonal and systemic reasons of why we have been more vulnerable to sexual violence, and continue to be. Sexual assault is about power and control. It’s a tool that maintains cis-heteronormative values and patriarchal gender roles influenced by white supremacy. It fetishizes trans and nonbinary people for personal gain. It exemplifies a power role in law enforcement, in medical practice, in the mental health field, and more. These factors play an even bigger role for trans people of color and trans people with disabilities.
However, sexual violence isn’t limited to experiencing harm from a cisgender person or a cisgender person in power. Every individual has the ability to cause harm, and most harm from sexual assault comes from someone a survivor knows. Although it’s much harder to talk about, sexual assault within our own community exists too. Trans people have been written off as disposable multiple times, so we need to promote accountability while also promoting the necessity of making sure no one is left behind; including survivors of sexual violence.
Talking about violence in our community is heavy, it’s supposed to be. Therefore, amidst the heaviness, I hope that we learn more ways of reclaiming a sense of joy and a sense of pleasure for ourselves as well. Every individual has the ability to create healthy relationships regardless of whether they are involved romantically, sexually, and/or platonically with the people they are engaging with. Sexual autonomy and freedom are to be granted to us as much as everyone else. We are worthy of that autonomy and freedom.
Written by Maya Williams (ey/em, they/them, & she/her)
Maya is the Sexual Assault Program Coordinator at MaineTransNet. Ey moved to Maine from North Carolina in 2017 to get eir Masters in Social Work with a Certificate in Applied Arts and Social Justice from the University of New England. They have worked in social justice and consent programming with organizations such as Maine Inside Out, EqualityMaine, Speak About It and more before their role at MTN. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center is funded in part by Maine's Department of Health and Human Services, United Way of Kennebec Valley, and your generous public and private donations.
In accordance with federal regulations, the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center does not discriminate in the access to or provision of its services.
For help, call or text us at 1-800-871-7741. Text help is available Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. Phone help is available 24/7. You can also chat with us by clicking here.
Beginning 01/11/2021, the statewide text/chat service will be undergoing maintenance and will not be available at this time. To get connected to an advocate, call the Maine Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-871-7741. Support is available 24/7.
Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center serves Kennebec & Somerset Counties.