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July 20, 2023

Understanding the Impact of Gender-Based Violence on Communities of Color

Discrimination on the basis of race and/or gender unfortunately remains all too common in the United States. Despite the rise of calls to address systemic racism, sexism, misogyny, and transphobia during the Civil Rights Movements and continuing through today, people from historically marginalized racial or ethnic backgrounds and genders not only experience disparate outcomes from their White counterparts and among cisgender men, but continue to face violence on the basis of their race and gender. 

Though people of all races and genders experience gender-based violence, women of color, including trans women of color, experience sexual assault and domestic violence at higher rates than the general population. Additionally, they are also less likely to report these cases of gender-based violence or seek help. Given the diverse nature of various communities of color, there can be a number of factors that contribute to such disparities. However, the prevalence of gender-based violence in communities of color is a reminder that it is not simply a matter of race-based violence or gender-based violence alone. Most visibly, we have seen the rise of transgender people being murdered around the globe, often transgender people of color, leading to the Transgender Day of Remembrance held in cities across the United States and the world on November 20. Too often, racialized and gender minorities continue to experience violence from those within their own racial or ethnic communities.

People of color are often unable to separate their race from their gender, and thus may experience unique discrimination at the intersection of those, or more, identities. Too often, however, common understandings of violence and discrimination against racial or gender minorities fail to grasp the conditions for and impact of gender-based violence on communities of color. In 2021, for example, a White man killed 8 people at a spa whose patrons were predominantly of Asian background. Though six of the eight murdered were Asian women, the shooter claimed that the shootings were not racially motivated, a claim that has been used historically to absolve White men of racism and misogyny. The false assumption that race and gender can be isolated from one another continues to obscure widely-held perceptions about racism, sexism, misogyny, and transphobia and how each are intertwined with one another.

As an issue of intersectionality, racialized and gender-based violence is often not addressed or made as visible to the degree that racialized violence toward men of color or gender-based violence toward cisgender White women are (intersectionality refers to the ways in which multiple forms of inequality can operate together, exacerbate one another, and result in experiences for people of multiple marginalized identities that are unique from those experiences of others based on a single issues of inequity). As Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw illustrated, the names of Black women who were murdered at the hands of police are less widely known than those of their male counterparts. 

If racial justice demands that the damages to communities of color be healed, that includes gender-based violence. Sexism, misogyny, and transphobia have no place among those working in, with, or for communities of color. Whether working toward racial equity, racial justice, or anywhere in between, we must not only listen to transgender folks, women, and people of all expansive gender identities from racialized backgrounds but also give them the tools and resources to successfully lead in our organizations, communities, and movements.


Converge has rich experience supporting organizations to address systemic inequalities internally and throughout the communities they serve, all through a racial and intersectional equity lens. We provide Program Evaluation, Racial and Intersectional Equity (R.I.S.E.©) Training , and Strategic Planning to help organizations live up to their missions and create a more radically just society.