Prevention Science

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 726–736 | Cite as

Prevalence of Past-Year Sexual Assault Victimization Among Undergraduate Students: Exploring Differences by and Intersections of Gender Identity, Sexual Identity, and Race/Ethnicity

  • Robert W. S. Coulter
  • Christina Mair
  • Elizabeth Miller
  • John R. Blosnich
  • Derrick D. Matthews
  • Heather L. McCauley


A critical step in developing sexual assault prevention and treatment is identifying groups at high risk for sexual assault. We explored the independent and interaction effects of sexual identity, gender identity, and race/ethnicity on past-year sexual assault among college students. From 2011 to 2013, 71,421 undergraduate students from 120 US post-secondary education institutions completed cross-sectional surveys. We fit multilevel logistic regression models to examine differences in past-year sexual assault. Compared to cisgender (i.e., non-transgender) men, cisgender women (adjusted odds ratios [AOR] = 2.47; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.29, 2.68) and transgender people (AOR = 3.93; 95% CI 2.68, 5.76) had higher odds of sexual assault. Among cisgender people, gays/lesbians had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals for men (AOR = 3.50; 95% CI 2.81, 4.35) but not for women (AOR = 1.13; 95% CI 0.87, 1.46). People unsure of their sexual identity had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals, but effects were larger among cisgender men (AOR = 2.92; 95% CI 2.10, 4.08) than cisgender women (AOR = 1.68; 95% CI 1.40, 2.02). Bisexuals had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals with similar magnitude among cisgender men (AOR = 3.19; 95% CI 2.37, 4.27) and women (AOR = 2.31; 95% CI 2.05, 2.60). Among transgender people, Blacks had higher odds of sexual assault than Whites (AOR = 8.26; 95% CI 1.09, 62.82). Predicted probabilities of sexual assault ranged from 2.6 (API cisgender men) to 57.7% (Black transgender people). Epidemiologic research and interventions should consider intersections of gender identity, sexual identity, and race/ethnicity to better tailor sexual assault prevention and treatment for college students.


Sexual assault Sexual identity Gender identity Race/ethnicity Undergraduate students 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. S. Coulter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christina Mair
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Miller
    • 3
  • John R. Blosnich
    • 2
    • 4
  • Derrick D. Matthews
    • 2
    • 5
  • Heather L. McCauley
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Center for LGBT Health Research, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMCUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Veterans AffairsCenter for Health Equity Research and PromotionPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Social ScienceMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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