Working with LGBTQ+ Survivors of Human Trafficking

Affirming Services Build Trust

LGBTQ+ youth and adults are at increased vulnerability to trafficking, and may be hesitant to disclose or seek help. An agency’s culture, beliefs, intake process, and direct service provision impact whether or not a survivor will accept or remain engaged in services. LGBTQ+ survivors have likely experienced significant rejection, violence, and barriers to crisis, housing, and trauma services, and will need affirmation, sensitivity, and consistency to build trust with a new agency or provider. From intake to program design and delivery, plan for addressing their unique needs.

The language you use matters. NCCASA can support member agencies in creating safer spaces that respect the gender identity and sexual orientation of LGBTQ+ survivors of human trafficking.

LGBTQ+ Youth Vulnerability

The Polaris Project notes that up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+.

46% ran away due to family rejection. These youth are:

7.4 times more likely to experience sexual violence than their heterosexual peers.

3-7 times more likely to engage in survival sex to meet basic needs like shelter, food, drugs, and toiletries.

2-10 times more likely to be held for prostitution charges.

Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Survivors

Transgender individuals experience high incidence of discrimination.

Injustice at Every Turn, a 2011 survey of over 6000 transgender adults in the United States, found that:

57% had experienced family rejection

19% had been refused housing due to gender, and 11% had been evicted

29% who had gone to shelters were turned away, 55% experienced harassment, and 22% were sexually assaulted while in the shelter

46% were uncomfortable seeking police assistance

Transgender individuals are 11 times more likely than the general population of U.S. women to have done sex work to survive, and that number increases when racial disparities are factored in.

Transgender individuals are at increased vulnerability for trafficking and less likely to have access to safe, affirming, nonjudgmental resources.

NCCASA provides training and technical assistance to increase capacity to serve transgender survivors.

Programs can improve services and access for LGBTQ+ survivors.

Identify and fill geographical gaps in access to non-discriminatory, safe, and affirming shelters across the state.

Ensure shelters have anti-discrimination policies that cover gender and sexual minorities.

Develop protocols for consistent implementation of anti-discrimination policies.

Provide training and support to reduce staff bias, misunderstanding, or lack of awareness around gender identity and sexual orientation.

Avoid shelter policies that require survivors to fit rigid gender roles or participate in mandatory religious activity.

Contact NCCASA for technical assistance around finding safe housing for LGBTQ+ survivors, for staff training, or for guidance on creating inclusive policies, housing, and intake forms.

Return to NCCASA’s Human Trafficking Resources page.