Trans-Link Canada Project Forges Nationwide Partnership to Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Survivors of Sexual Assault and Intimate Partner Violence

September 14, 2023

Transgender and gender diverse (TGD) individuals face high rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, yet their access to safe, non-stigmatizing services remains limited. In a nationwide initiative aimed at expanding resources and bolstering support for TGD survivors of assault, the Trans-LINK Canada Network will be established with the support of 56 diverse partners. This collaborative effort will actively engage the perspectives of TGD individuals alongside community and healthcare organizations.

Women College Hospital senior scientist Janice Du Mont, EdD, and her team have secured a $2.5 million Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to support the Trans-LINK Canada Network and associated research and knowledge mobilization activities.

“TGD people are highly susceptible to experiences of violence,” says Hannah Kia, PhD, co-applicant and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work. “Local and international research shows that anti-trans stigma and discrimination often underlie these experiences, with TGD individuals frequently encountering inequities when seeking safety and support post-violence.”

The project is informed by an intersectoral and interdisciplinary team of 12 co-applicants, 36 collaborators and 56 partners with expertise in trans health and/or gender-based violence and representing all territories and provinces.

“We will address research gaps, share information, co-design trainings and guidelines and generate policy recommendations,” says Du Mont. “Project activities will enhance our understanding of TGD survivors’ unique experiences and needs and aid in informing our national response to this urgent issue.”

The trans-LINK Canada Network has five main objectives:

  1. Establish a first-of-its-kind national network for TGD individuals, uniting community, healthcare and public sector organizations to collaboratively conduct research and develop programs, interventions and knowledge dissemination initiatives.
  2. Determine the scope of this pressing issue by launching the first nationwide survey in Canada exclusively dedicated to studying sexual assault and intimate partner violence against TGD persons. This survey aims to bridge research gaps by exploring its prevalence, severity, contributing factors, consequences and patterns of seeking assistance.
  3. Examine access and barriers to relevant services and supports using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map TGD-affirming community organizations and hospital-based violence treatment centres nationwide. Gather insights through in-depth interviews with service providers and TGD survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
  4. Develop online learning courses aimed at educating professionals across various sectors about effectively addressing the unique needs of TGD survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
  5. Establish and evaluate a national knowledge hub to facilitate the dissemination of research and knowledge shared within the newly formed national network.

“Our new partnership will champion a cutting-edge, coordinated and evidence-based national network, ensuring health and community organizations can co-create and exchange knowledge to improve supports for all TGD survivors of gender-based violence across Canada,” says Du Mont. “This collective capacity is necessary to revolutionize and inform the coordination of supports for TGD survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.”

“And in doing so, I believe the trans-LINK Canada Network will address serious gaps in research, policy and practice,” adds Kia.