Helpline testifies to the vulnerability of transgender people

Illustration of a hand holding a telephone and having dialed the number to the helpline

In the first six months, the transgender helpline received 250 calls. Illustration: Jenny Almén

Last spring, the National Centre for Knowledge on Men's Violence against Women opened a new helpline for transgender people. The calls received indicate that this group is exposed to various types of violence in more places than just the home.

Since February of this year, transgender people who have experienced domestic or sexual violence can call the new helpline run by the National Centre for Knowledge on Men's Violence against Women (NCK) on behalf of the government. The line is open every day of the week and is staffed by nurses or social workers who have expertise in both violence and transgender issues.

250 calls have been received over the first six months, which is more than project manager Chris-Emelie Denstedt had dared to hope for.

“This is an important target group, many of whom have unfortunately experienced poor treatment and are therefore reluctant to seek support. We therefore deem it positive that so many people have still dared to call,” says Denstedt, project manager at NCK.

However, around 55% of the calls have been ‘silent’, meaning that someone is calling but not saying anything.

“From previous experience, we know that in some cases they may be testing it out but not daring to talk, before returning later and actually wanting to talk.”

Porträtt Chris-.Emelie Denstedt

Chris-Emelie Denstedt, project manager at NCK.

Transgender people more vulnerable to violence as a group

NCK also runs two other lines: The National Women's Helpline, or Kvinnofridslinjen, and the Men's Helpline. This has made it possible to compare how vulnerability differs between callers to the different lines.

“What stands out on the transgender helpline is that sexual violence is the second most common type of violence experienced. That proportion is significantly higher than in the other two helplines,” notes Denstedt.

Another difference compared to the other lines is the relationship between the victim and the abuser. On both the Men's Helpline and Women's Helpline, the perpetrator is often a partner or ex-partner.

“On the transgender helpline, the situation is broader. The perpetrator is more likely to be a family member, relative or acquaintance. It is also more common to be victimised by several different people, for example by a family member and a partner.”

On all three helplines, the most common place for violence to occur is in the home, whether it is the caller’s own or someone else’s. However, the calls to the trans line stand out as the violence is more likely to take place in other locations compared to the other lines, such as in the workplace, at school or digitally.

To summarise, transgender people are being targeted in more types of relationships, by more perpetrators and in more places.

“This is what we are seeing so far, although it is important to emphasise that we have a rather limited data set. But it still reflects what has been seen in studies and research, that this is a group exposed to violence on several different levels compared to cisgender* people.”

Did you expect to find that this group is so targeted?

“Unfortunately, I can't say that I was surprised. The knowledge I brought with me into this project was sadly confirmed. It should be noted that the statistics are based on a limited sample, but we can already see the need for this helpline.”

Footnote: A cisgender person is someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Helpline for transgender people

The line is aimed at transgender and non-binary people who have been subjected to domestic or sexual violence. Relatives and people who see others being victimised in their work can also call for advice and support. The people who answer the calls are social workers and nurses with expertise in transgender issues.

The line is open every day of the week, 11:00–19:00.

Support line for transgender people: +46 (0)20 55 00 00

The helpline for transgender people is run by the National Centre for Knowledge on Men's Violence against Women (NCK) at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital. NCK also runs the National Women's Helpline, or Kvinnofridslinjen, and the Men's Helpline.

Support line for transgender people

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