Transgender / Sexual Assault Coalition Sites Selected

September 14, 2011

FORGE’s Transgender Sexual Violence Project today announced the selection of four sites to take part in “Making the Connection: Building Stronger Relationships Between Sexual Assault Service Providers and Transgender Survivors,” a project supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims for Crime (OVC).

FORGE will assist sexual assault services providers and transgender leaders in four localities – Boston, Massachusetts; the state of Maine; Iowa City, Iowa; and Boulder City, Colorado – to assess the barriers keeping transgender sexual assault survivors from accessing sexual assault services and develop and implement a coalition work plan to address those barriers.

“The need for these demonstration projects is huge,” said FORGE Executive Director Michael Munson. “Multiple studies have shown that over 50% of transgender people experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, yet few transgender survivors access mainstream healing services, even when they clearly suffer long-term consequences from the trauma. These demonstration projects will show whether coalitions of service providers and transgender people can improve systems and attitudes enough to reduce this gap between needs and services.”

FORGE will help each community assess how well prepared sexual assault agency personnel are to handle the unique needs of transgender survivors, what knowledge and beliefs transgender people hold about their community’s sexual assault system, and what typically unspoken assumptions may be adding to the disconnect between transgender people and sexual assault providers. At a FORGE-facilitated, one-to-two day meeting of the each provider/transgender coalition, participants will share knowledge, build relationships, prioritize issues, and develop a work plan for addressing specific barriers in their community. In subsequent months, FORGE staff will assist coalition members in carrying out their work plan and evaluating the results. At the end of the approximately one-year-long process, FORGE will publish a “”Guide to Systems Change: Serving Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors,” to help other communities replicate the project.

The demonstration projects are part of a groundbreaking three-year grant from the Office for Victims of Crime to improve the ability of sexual assault professionals and volunteers to provide culturally competent services to transgender survivors of sexual assault. More information on the “Making the Connection” demonstration projects, the larger grant, or FORGE, can be accessed at FORGE’s website, www.forge-forward.org.

This project was produced by FORGE under 2009-SZ-B9-K003, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this teleconference are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position nor policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.