Trans, nonbinary students excluded from sexual violence prevention efforts

April 29, 2020
Written By:
Laura Bailey

"We can defend our community." Image credit: Owning Our PowerANN ARBOR—Few proven interventions for sexual violence prevention education target trans and nonbinary students, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Sarah M. Peitzmeier

Sarah M. Peitzmeier

A new study underway led by Sarah Peitzmeier, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing, seeks to remedy this problem by conducting focus groups and online surveys of trans and

nonbinary students across the country.

The answers will be used to adapt an existing intervention called Enhanced, Assess, Acknowledge Act so that it applies to the experiences of trans and nonbinary students. EAAA is widely used, but doesn’t specifically target what may be uique types of violence against trans or nonbinary students, Peitzmeier says. In a randomized controlled trial, the EAAA intervention reduced attempted or completed rape among cisgender female undergraduates by half.

The study, called “Owning Our Power,” aims to enroll at least 300 undergraduates ages 18-25 to share their experiences with or perceptions of sexual violence against trans and nonbinary students on college campuses. Upon completion, researchers will offer the new intervention to colleges and universities.

Peitzmeier says coercion tactics and motives can look very different for assaults directed at trans and nonbinary students. Often, transgender students are shamed or made to feel unwanted by attackers. Or, some attackers imply that victims should feel grateful for the attention or that victims are trying to “trick” others about their gender, she says.

“Existing interventions don’t address these unique dynamics”

“Existing interventions don’t address these unique dynamics,” Peitzmeier said. “And because so little research has been done on campus sexual assault against transgender students, we still don’t know basic things like who the perpetrators tend to be, such as their gender or relationship to the student, or where on campus these assaults tend to take place.”


More information: