A wide-ranging new study finds that transgender and non-binary teens are likelier to be victims of sexual violence than peers who accept their biological sex.
Five public health researchers conducted the study of national survey data on U.S. children aged 14 to 16 years old, published Thursday in JAMA Network Open.
The study found that 59.6% of transgender boys and girls and 60.1% of non-binary youths reported experiencing sexual assault, attempted rape, rape or coerced sex.
By comparison, 38.9% of cisgender boys and girls who accepted their “sex assigned at birth” reported the same.
“This cross-sectional study found that gender minority youths were more likely to experience [sexual violence] but equally likely to perpetrate [sexual violence] compared with cisgender youths,” the study states.
The study found that while “anti-transgender sentiment and gender-based stigma” may put “gender minority youths” at greater risk of sexual violence, “rates of sexual aggression were similar across genders.”
Transgender girls were underrepresented in the study, which found only a correlation and not a causal relationship between sexual violence and gender minority status.
The study’s lead author was Michele L. Ybarra, president of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, California.
Her research team analyzed data that the Growing up With Media survey collected online from 4,193 American teens from 2018 to 2020. Eligible participants, who clicked into the survey through social media ads, were youths ages 14 to 16, who read English and had internet access.
They conducted their analysis in November 2021 and March 2022.