Toward the conceptualization and measurement of transphobia-driven intimate partner violence

Maclin, B. J., Peitzmeier, S., Krammer, N. K., Todd, K. P., Bonar, E. E., & Gamarel, K. E. (2024). Toward the conceptualization and measurement of transphobia-driven intimate partner violence. Social science & medicine (1982), 341, 116532.


Transgender and gender expansive (trans) people face high rates of violence, including unique forms of abuse from intimate partners that specifically leverage transphobia. Past qualitative studies have explored trans-specific intimate partner violence (IPV) and transgender IPV; we propose a new term, transphobia-driven IPV, investigated in this paper. The goals of this study were two-fold: (1) to qualitatively identify the subdomains and boundaries of transphobia-driven IPV with the explicit intention of new scale development; and (2) to examine the degree to which existing trans-focused IPV measurement scales adequately assess the construct. We recruited US-based, English-speaking trans survivors of IPV, aged 18 years and older, online through community-based organizations and Facebook/Instagram advertising. Twenty people participated in the study, of which 60 percent were white, 55 percent were assigned female at birth, and 60 percent were nonbinary. Through thematic analysis of the 20 in-depth interviews, we identified four subdomains of transphobia-driven IPV: pressure to perform, disrupting gender affirmation, belittling gender identity, and intentional misgendering. When examining nine existing screening tools and measures that ask about IPV related to the survivor’s trans identity, only one measure included questions related to all four subdomains. Further, the existing measures were either not psychometrically validated, only validated with a subpopulation of the trans community, or validated with a larger LGBTQ sample of which trans survivors comprised a small percentage. This study lays a foundation for new valid measures of transphobia-driven IPV that reflect the various ways in which transphobia can be leveraged by abusers and may be relevant across subpopulations of the trans community.

Keywords: IPV; Identity abuse; Intimate partner violence; LGBTQ; Scale development; Trans; Transgender; Transphobia