Sexual violence and criminal justice professionals across the country will be better prepared to respectfully and appropriately serve transgender survivors of sexual violence as the result of three-year, $293,209 grant funded under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) awarded to FORGE by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Studies done by FORGE and other researchers have found extremely high rates of sexual violence against transgender people, with approximately one in two transgender people having survived such assaults. Yet transgender people are even less likely than other sexual assault survivors to access mainstream services because of fears they will encounter transphobia, barriers raised by many services’ practice of segregating clients by sex, and fears they will encounter disbelief or unwarranted curiosity from criminal justice or sexual assault professionals.
FORGE’s project will address these problems by providing training and technical assistance to professionals who work with sexual assault survivors and by sponsoring three or four demonstration projects.
In the first year, five publications will be produced and made immediately available on demand (24/7) through the web:
- Transgender 101
- Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors
- A decision-making rubric to help professionals determine what questions they should – and shouldn’t – be asking a given transgender sexual violence survivor
- Advice on how to reach the transgender community
- A guide for health care providers who are working with transgender sexual violence survivors.
In the second year, the content of these publications will be repackaged as three webinars for professionals. In the third year, the webinars will be revised to respond to audience feedback and made into self-study DVDs that will be available online, on demand, and in hard copy.
A national Multidisciplinary Advisory Council of key experts in sexual violence services and/or transgender needs will provide back-up to FORGE’s technical assistance part of the project. Professionals will be able to access individualized advice and referrals via phone and email “Warm Line” throughout the three years.
In the demonstration projects, which will start in year two, 3 or 4 communities across the country will be identified and assisted in creating a coalition or partnership between transgender community representatives and key sexual assault providers. FORGE staff will assist these coalitions in identifying and redressing barriers transgender sexual assault survivors face in accessing that community’s services. A final publication, “Guide to Systems Change: Serving Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors,” will enable other communities to replicate and improve upon these demonstration projects.
FORGE was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its Executive Director, michael munson, is available to answer questions about this or other FORGE projects. He can be reached at tgwarrior(at)forge-forward.org or by calling 414-559-2123.
FORGE is a progressive organization whose mission is to support, educate and advocate for the rights and lives of transgender individuals and SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies). FORGE is dedicated to helping move fragmented communities beyond identity politics and forge a movement that embraces and empowers our diverse complexities.
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Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others. Those ripples—crossing each other from a million different centers of energy—build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice.
–Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1966
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