The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



The V Word: Violence Against Transgender


Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.

I am sure all you have heard about the assault on two transgender women on a train. They were harassed, beaten and one was stripped. People watched … laughed…cheer… and … no one intervened. If a heterosexual and cis-gendered woman was stripped naked probably people would have helped.. well….probably. Anyone thinking this hasn’t happened in Virginia? It has … three years ago in Fredericksburg, VA, where a transgendered woman was assaulted outside a store by three individuals. Again with the laughing and watching by bystanders… only someone who knew her came to help. I was working in Fredericksburg at the time and only three agencies showed support… the anti-violence agencies of course…. No one else…
It’s hard to understand why people didn’t help, just watched and even cheered. We as a society are making gains in getting bystanders to intervene in accidents, in issues involving children, and yet this rarely happens with sexual or domestic violence and does not happen with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer individuals. Are we that afraid? Are we still that phobic about sexual minorities that we do nothing to help them? Nothing?

This month I am giving a nod to the Queer community and talking about interpersonal and sexual violence within that population. You can go to for more information, events, and help…
Sexual and gender minorities are considered to be at the highest risk for sexual and interpersonal violence and yet have the fewest resources available. Seriously, just how far can we go to marginalize a person or a group?
Well pretty far actually….

  • Aside from all the usual negatives survivors of rape, sexual assault, or interpersonal violence get to experience, if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer – you get a few more negatives and a lot more isolated… …
  • You get to feel shame over your sexual orientation or your gender identity.
  • You get to feel fear over asking for help because it may out you or you may be rejected from the provider or agency that is supposed to help you.
  • You get to have threats of being outed –
  • As we still live in a very conservative country regarding gender and sexual identity, this can be a significant threat to keep an LGBTQ victim of violence from reporting.
  • You get to experience threats of actions to take children away or actually have them removed because of lack of parental rights.

I am a survivor of sexual assault and interpersonal violence and I experienced a lot of negatives that still impact me years later. But one thing I did not have to experience is my abusers using societal fear and hatred of my sexual and gender identity to stop me from reaching out to others.

Isolation from family, friends, even the Queer community itself makes it harder for a survivor to navigate medical, legal, and mental health resources and impact healing.

Being raped and abused is bad enough, living in a society where radio hosts and journalists make fun of rape is bad enough, but to add hatred of you because of how you identify, because you are you basically…..are we as a society not ashamed?

For help or information? Here are some options…

Call 911 if you have been assaulted and go to the closest Emergency Department.
For information on how to report sexual or domestic violence in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street. The number again is 804-646-5100

For those in Virginia who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer or questioning, you can access a free and confidential telephone service called The LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline at 1.866.356.6998 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm for help regarding intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project at stands ready to work with anyone who wants to address anti-LGBTQ violence in Virginia and to help build safe communities. The number again is: 1.866.356.6998.

For listeners from outside of Virginia: GLBT National Hotline @ 1-888-843-4565 or go to
For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at
The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3, read and produced by me, Carol Olson.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This month holds the Transgender Day of Remembrance. On this day show support for those among us who are targeted for violence due to their differences from the masses. Transgender individuals are one of the most vulnerable groups to interpersonal violence. Transgender individuals also have many barriers to accessing services for recourse when victimized. Transgender individuals are at a high risk of being assaulted and killed.

On Tuesday, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance to share grief over loss of friends, partners and family members who have been lost due to violence against them. The Day of Remembrance is also a day to make a commitment to pursue equality for all, display awareness and inclusiveness in your everyday life and to be a model of non-violence.

Check out your area for events. For those in the Richmond, Virginia area, below are some upcoming events:

Monday, November 12 at 6 pm – Alliance for Progressive Values Salon with Dr. Lisa Griffin, Speaker. Helen’s Restaurant, 2527 W. Main Street. (corner of Main and Robinson)

Sunday, November 18 at 7 pm – Queer Action – VCU Candlelight Vigil held at the VCU Amphitheater

Tuesday, November 20 at Noon – Transgender Day of Remembrance Flash Mob, Queer Action – VCU held at The Compass, VCU Campus

Tuesday, November 20 at Noon – Equality in the Workplace Panel, Brown Bag Lunch by University of Richmond Common Ground held at the Downtown Campus, 626 E. Broad Street, Suite 100

Tuesday, NOvember 20 at 7 pm – Transgender Day of Remembrance – Candlelight Memorial with reception to follow held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, 1000 Blanton Avenue.

For Richmond events check out their social network sites:


Twitter: @RVATDOR

Why doesn’t Virginia consider violence related to sexuality and gender identity a hate crime?

Recently there was a brutal attack against a transgender woman in Fredericksburg, Virginia that occurred on May 21, 2011.  It appears there was an interaction with her earlier, she was then followed or spotted at a local 711 and then attacked.  One excellent bystander intervened by putting himself between her and the attackers. 

It’s appalling that these crimes happen and yet they happen frequently.  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender identified individuals continue to be an invisible minority, yet have a higher rate of crime targeted to them.  While there are scholarly articles being written, studies being done, and programs striving to address violence against the LGBTQ community, there is much to be done to address continued homophobia in our society, the perseverance of myths about sexuality, and the amount of violence directed against those who are marginalized.  The impact of societal neglect and the lack of support have great consequences not only for LGBTQ on health, social and educational issues but for the greater community as well.  How do we continue to live with each other with such walls between us?  How do we continue to justify the cost of crime, which can be prevented?  As a therapist, I watch my own field continue to come up with ways to use diagnosis and treatment as a means to address gender identity and sexuality and see it only a means to further segregate a group from the mainstream.  I see this use of labeling being used to move members of our community further out on the fringe where they are in fact more at risk for violence, health consequences, developmental delays, and shortened life-spans. 

I feel the two-sided impact of cultural homophobia every day.  I feel the division between myself and my peers every day.  I suffer the aloneness that comes from not being able to have a full conversation with someone because I am seen as heterosexual and white and therefore an enemy from the privileged mass.  I feel that wall of fear and suspicion every day of who I really am and what I really mean.  I feel engulfed by the barriers that keep me from people I love, people I work with, and communities I work in and live in, and people I serve. 

While I run an anti-violence agency that focuses on sexually violent crimes, I stand with my community to put a voice out against violence toward anyone.  Violence in our community effects us greatly; all of us; every day.  It costs us in all spectrums of our lives: interpersonally, socially, spiritually, and financially.  I hope more people in my communities will stand with me and add your voice to ending violence.

 Please contact the Virginia Anti-Violence Project and check out their website for information and services for LGBTQ in Virginia. 


 articles regarding the assault

Day of Remembrance for transgender victims of violence

The Richmond Transgender Day of Remembrance Steering Committee invites you to attend the 10th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.  The event is held annually on November 20 to honor the memory of those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence.

This year, the event is hosted by Richmond Friends Meeting, 4500 Kensington Ave., Richmond, VA 23221, and begins at 7 pm.  The program will include speakers, candlelight vigil with a reading of names and brief biographies of those lost to violence in the past year, and end with a reception.

We hope you will join us for this important occasion, gathering with a diverse assembly of individuals and organizations standing up for victims of anti-trans violence. Please visit for more information

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