'Look for the helpers': The impact of gender incongruence on transgender individuals' comfort asking for police help

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Research has established a link between LGBTQ+ identity and high victimization rates. However, transgender experiences specifically are not well understood because they are often subsumed under the monolithic label of LGBTQ+ experiences, despite the specific risks associated with non-normative gender identities. It has also been established that the police function is grounded in the maintenance of the dominant social order. Given that LGBTQ+ individuals, and transgender individuals in particular, are disruptive of the social order, many of their interactions with police have been negative. In this study, I examine how varying degrees of "visible" gender nonconformity affect a transgender individual's comfort level with asking for police help. I hypothesize that transgender people who visibly transgress gender norms by physically presenting as a gender that does not match their government-issued identification will be less comfortable asking the police for help than transgender individuals who do not have such incongruence. Through a logistic regression analysis of the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, I find that those groups who visibly transgress gender norms have a higher likelihood of experiencing discomfort with asking for police help. These findings have important implications for our understanding of transgender victimization by elucidating the barriers to police officers' ability to prevent or lessen the effects of victimization within the transgender community.



police, transgender, LGBTQ+, social dominance orientation, hegemonic gender normativity