Intimate Partner Violence in Transgender Populations: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence and Correlates

Am J Public Health. 2020 Sep;110(9):e1-e14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.305774. Epub 2020 Jul 16.


Background: Transgender individuals experience unique vulnerabilities to intimate partner violence (IPV) and may experience a disproportionate IPV burden compared with cisgender (nontransgender) individuals.Objectives: To systematically review the quantitative literature on prevalence and correlates of IPV in transgender populations.Search Methods: Authors searched research databases (PubMed, CINAHL), gray literature (Google), journal tables of contents, and conference abstracts, and consulted experts in the field. Authors were contacted with data requests in cases in which transgender participants were enrolled in a study, but no disaggregated statistics were provided for this population.Selection Criteria: We included all quantitative literature published before July 2019 on prevalence and correlates of IPV victimization, perpetration, or service utilization in transgender populations. There were no restrictions by sample size, year, or location.Data Collection and Analysis: Two independent reviewers conducted screening. One reviewer conducted extraction by using a structured database, and a second reviewer checked for mistakes or omissions. We used random-effects meta-analyses to calculate relative risks (RRs) comparing the prevalence of IPV in transgender individuals and cisgender individuals in studies in which both transgender and cisgender individuals were enrolled. We also used meta-analysis to compare IPV prevalence in assigned-female-sex-at-birth and assigned-male-sex-at-birth transgender individuals and to compare physical IPV prevalence between nonbinary and binary transgender individuals in studies that enrolled both groups.Main Results: We identified 85 articles from 74 unique data sets (ntotal = 49 966 transgender participants). Across studies reporting it, the median lifetime prevalence of physical IPV was 37.5%, lifetime sexual IPV was 25.0%, past-year physical IPV was 16.7%, and past-year sexual IPV was 10.8% among transgender individuals. Compared with cisgender individuals, transgender individuals were 1.7 times more likely to experience any IPV (RR = 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36, 2.03), 2.2 times more likely to experience physical IPV (RR = 2.19; 95% CI = 1.66, 2.88), and 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual IPV (RR = 2.46; 95% CI = 1.64, 3.69). Disparities persisted when comparing to cisgender women specifically. There was no significant difference in any IPV, physical IPV, or sexual IPV prevalence between assigned-female-sex-at-birth and assigned-male-sex-at-birth individuals, nor in physical IPV prevalence between binary- and nonbinary-identified transgender individuals. IPV victimization was associated with sexual risk, substance use, and mental health burden in transgender populations.Authors' Conclusions: Transgender individuals experience a dramatically higher prevalence of IPV victimization compared with cisgender individuals, regardless of sex assigned at birth. IPV prevalence estimates are comparably high for assigned-male-sex-at-birth and assigned-female-sex-at-birth transgender individuals, and for binary and nonbinary transgender individuals, though more research is needed.Public Health Implications: Evidence-based interventions are urgently needed to prevent and address IPV in this high-risk population with unique needs. Lack of legal protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and social services likely foster vulnerability to IPV. Transgender individuals should be explicitly included in US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations promoting IPV screening in primary care settings. Interventions at the policy level as well as the interpersonal and individual level are urgently needed to address epidemic levels of IPV in this marginalized, high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Transgender Persons / statistics & numerical data*