Investigating domestic violence and the transgender community

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Domestic violence rates within the LGBTQ community are much higher on average than in heterosexual couples

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning Valley came face-to-face with a devastating murder not unlike a multitude of others around the nation where a transgender person was victimized.

Chyna Carrillo was about to turn 25 years old in March before she was brutally beaten Feb. 18 in New Wilmington. Police said her injuries were caused by a blunt force object wielded by 33-year-old Juan Carter Hernandez, which led to her death. Hernandez was fatally shot by police during the attack Thursday.

Friends and family of the victim want Carillo’s story to remind others to be more accepting and to show compassion.

According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 22 transgender people were murdered in 2019, though experts say it could be much higher.

Domestic violence in the transgender community often goes under reported.

Collection of data on transgender murder victims is difficult because their gender identity is not always reported correctly by law enforcement, family, even journalists.

But the numbers for reported murders are going up. This could be thanks to more awareness around transgender issues and properly identifying people by their preferred gender.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, transgender victims are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in public, compared to those who do not identify as transgender.

Domestic violence rates within the LGBTQ community are much higher on average than in heterosexual couples. 44% of lesbian women and 61% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.

Daniel Tirabassi, a member of the Full Spectrum Community Outreach Center, provided some insight into why this happens at a higher rate in the transgender community. 

“[There’s a trend among] transgender people where you kind of feel down on yourself because society tells you who to be,” said Tirabassi. “So you find that one light and it’s not always the best light to find. So they end up in sticky situations where the partner isn’t as accepting as they said they were. Things happen and the violence occurs.”

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation tracked the murders of transgender people in 2018. According to their study 82% of victims were women of color and 64% were under 35 years old.

“Transgender people of course just kind of get higher violence rates across the board when it comes to intimate partner [violence], assault and murders, specifically people of color,” said Tirabassi. “The transgender day of remembrance that I’ve run for the center for the past 6 years, the numbers are going up and 90% of them, if not more, are transgender women of color.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact the Sojourner House in Youngstown.

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