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There must be full equality under the law for the LGBTQ community. A large part of my work as a human rights lawyer has centered around the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. I am no stranger to the power dynamics at play when survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence seek help. LGBTQ survivors are even further marginalized because their perpetrator can capitalize on the stigmas that already exist around their identities. Additionally, the LGBTQ community also faces higher rates of hate-motivated violence, which can often take the form of sexual assault.    

Meaningfully addressing this issue takes honest conversation, empathy, and input from the survivors themselves. Access to services and resources, particularly for those most at-risk for sexual assault is crucial and in some instances, can even mean the difference between life and death. These services need to be free, properly-funded, and full accessible. Full stop. The hard part is that the places to seek help—from police, hospitals, shelters or even crisis centers—can be the very places that perpetuate sexual and gender identity discrimination or deny services outright, causing further marginalization.

Thus, accessibility should also require workers with experience and training on LGBTQ-specific issues to be on staff and available. Within the LGBTQ community, transgender and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence (often during childhood) and this needs policy-specific interventions to be prevented. 

Finally, as a community in general, we have to be better about talking through this issue instead of ignoring it. Sexual and gender-based violence has profound and long-lasting affects on survivors and their communities. I stand for addressing all SGBV issues not just against cis-women. When you include the people in the margins, you include everyone.