Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 975–979 | Cite as

Redefining Intimate Partner Violence Beyond the Binary to Include Transgender People

  • Adam F. YerkeEmail author
  • Jennifer DeFeo
Original Article


Since the mid-1970s, the field of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has debated over gender differences in the perpetration of physical partner violence. However, this classical controversy has ignored transgender people since their gender does not seemingly fit the binary categories (male and female) first used to conceptualize IPV. Furthermore, sustained attention on this ceaseless argument has contributed to transgender people remaining invisible to the field of IPV. In this article, we redefine IPV to extend beyond the gender binary and invite the field to shift its focus to transgender people. Research suggests that as many as one in two transgender individuals are victims of IPV, but that multiple barriers prevent this group from acquiring protection that is afforded to others. Therefore, we propose that researchers direct their attention to this topic, and thus, inform police officers, victim advocates, and medical professionals who work directly to combat IPV for all.


Transgender Gender identity Gender binary Intimate partner violence Domestic violence 


  1. Brown, N. (2011). Holding tensions of victimization and perpetration: Partner abuse in trans communities. In J. L. Ristock’s (Ed.), Intimate partner violence in LGBTQ lives (pp. 153–168). New York: Routledge Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, T.N.T., & Herman, J.L. (2015). Intimate partner violence and sexual abuse among LGBT people: A review of existing research. Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved from
  3. Clements, K., Katz, M., & Marx, R. (1999). The transgender community health project. San Francisco: University of California San Francisco.Google Scholar
  4. Courvant, D., & Cooks-Daniels, L. (n.d.). Trans and intersex survivors of domestic violence: Defining terms, barriers, & responsibilities. Survivor Project. Retrieved from
  5. Dutton, D. G. (2006). Rethinking domestic violence. Toronto: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  6. FORGE. (2011). Transgender domestic violence and sexual assault resource sheet. Retrieved from
  7. Galvan, F.H., & Bazargan, M. (2012). Interactions of Latina transgender women with law enforcement. Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved from
  8. Goodmark, L. (2013). Transgender people, intimate partner abuse, and the legal system. Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review, 48(1), 51–104.Google Scholar
  9. Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L., & Keisling, M. (2011). Injustice at every turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.Google Scholar
  10. Greenberg, K. (2012). Still hidden in the closet: trans women and domestic violence. Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, 27(2), 198–251.Google Scholar
  11. Hester, M., & Donovan, M. (2009). Researching domestic violence in same-sex relationships – a feminist epistemological approach to survey development. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 13(2), 161–173.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Landers, S. & Gilsanz, P. (2009). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Massachusetts: A survey of health issues comparing LGBT persons with their heterosexual and non-transgender counterparts. Massachusetts Department of Public Health.Google Scholar
  13. Langenderfer-Magruder, L., Whitfield, D.L., Walls, N.E., Kattari, S.K., & Ramos, D. (2014) Experiences of intimate partner violence and subsequent police reporting among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer adults in Colorado: Comparing rates of cisgender and transgender victimization. J Interpers Violence, 117. doi:  10.1177/088626051455676
  14. Lev, A. I., & Sennott, S. (2012). Understanding gender nonconformity and transgender identity: A sex-positive approach. In P. J. Kleinplatz (Ed.), New directions in sex therapy: Innovations and alternatives (2nd ed., pp. 321–336). New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  15. Namaste, V. K. (2000). Invisible lives: The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). (2011). Hate violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected communities in the United States in 2010. Retrieved from
  17. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). (2013). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected intimate partner violence in 2012. Retrieved from
  18. Risser, J. M. H., Shelton, A., McCurdy, S., Atkinson, J., Padgett, P., Useche, B., Thomas, B., & Williams, M. (2005). Sex, drugs, violence, and HIV status among male-to-female transgender persons in Houston, Texas. International Journal of Transgenderism, 8(2–3), 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Roch, A., Morton, J., & Ritchie, G. (2010). Out of sight, out of mind?: Transgender people’s experiences of domestic abuse. LGBT Youth Scotland & Equality Network.Google Scholar
  20. Straus, M. A., & Gelles, R. J. (1986). Societal change and change in family violence from 1975 to 1985 as revealed by two national surveys. Journal of Marriage and Family, 48(3), 465–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Turrell, S. C. (2000). Seeking help for same-sex relationship abuses. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 10(2), 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. White, C., & Goldberg, J. (2006). Expanding our understanding of gendered violence: violence against trans people and their loved ones. Canadian Women’s Studies, 25(1–2), 124–127.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Forensic Psychology Department, the Chicago School of Professional PsychologySouthern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Chicago School of Professional PsychologySouthern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations