Rainbow Experiences Research

A new research report has just been released, Writing Themselves In 4, which takes an in depth look into the health and well being of rainbow young people in Australia.

Here we will report on some of the interesting findings, which may correspond somewhat with life in Aotearoa. There figures are for rainbow people only, and are not compared to the overall population.

Sexuality and Gender

Sexuality by gender

Overall, cisgender people identified overwhelmingly as bisexual, followed by gay. Transgender people overall identified as “something else”, followed by bisexual and pansexual.

Transgender women were most likely to identify as “something else” (29.2%), followed by pansexual or lesbian (23.6% each).

Trans men were most likely to identify as bisexual (30.3%), followed by “something else” (24.1%), then gay (15%).

Non-binary participants were most likely to identify as pansexual (21.1%), then bisexual (19.2%), then queer (17.1%).

Cisgender women were most likely to identify as bisexual (45.3%), followed by lesbian (19%).

Cisgender men were most likely to identify as gay (56.4%), then bisexual (24%).

Gender by sexuality

Lesbian people were most often transgender women.
Pansexual people were most often trans women.
Queer people were most often non-binary people.
Asexual people were most often non-binary people.
People who identified as “something else” were most often transgender women.
Gay people were most often cisgender men.
Bisexual people were most often cisgender women, or transgender men.

Lumping all genders with a particular sexuality together gives a false impression of who needs support

The above section gives us an important insight into how data needs to be collected and analysed.

Often data for lesbians is assumed to relate to cisgender women, but we see here that it is more likely to relate to transgender women. Likewise, data for bisexuals is usually assumed to relate to cisgender bisexuals, but we see here that it is most likely to relate to cisgender women and transgender men. We also see that data relating to asexual, pansexual, queer, and people who identify as “something else” is likely to specifically relate to transgender people, much more than to cisgender people.

Separating gender from sexual orientation (eg. “asexual cisgender women” and “asexual non-binary people”) is the only way to get an accurate picture of who is experiencing what, and where supports and resources are needed.

Harassment

This section looks at harassment, including verbal, physical, and sexual harassment or assault.

Verbal harassment by gender

The study showed that verbal harassment was most often experienced by trans women at 71.2%, then by trans men at 63.3%, followed by non-binary people at 52.8%. For cisgender rainbow people, this was much lower, with 45% of cis men and 30.2% of cis women experiencing this.

Physical harassment by gender

Physical harassment was experienced most often by trans men at 16.8%, followed by trans women at 15.9%, and non-binary people at 13%. 12% of cisgender men experienced this, and 5.7% of cisgender women.

Sexual harassment by gender

44.8% of transgender women experienced sexual harassment, followed by non-binary people at 27.7%, and trans men at 23.2%. 21.1% of cis men and 20.8% of cis women experienced this.

Harassment by gender
Harassment by sexuality
Verbal harassment By sexuality

Verbal harassment was most frequently experienced by gay people (49.4%), followed by pansexuals (47.7%), then queers (46.4%). Lesbians experienced this the next most frequently at 44.2%, followed by those who identified as “something else” at 38.5%. Bisexual and asexual people came in lowest, at 33.8% and 32.6% respectively.

Physical harassment By sexuality

Physical harassment was highest equally for gay and pansexual people at 13.2%, followed by queer people at 10.2% and those who identified as “something else” at 10%. Lesbians followed at 9.5%, bisexuals at 7.2%, and asexuals at 5%.

Sexual harassment By sexuality

Sexual harassment was most common for queer people (27.4%), followed by lesbians at 25.3%, pansexuals at 24.2%, and “something else” at 23.5%. 21.9% of gay people experienced sexual harassment, followed by 21.4% of bisexuals, and 15.6% of asexuals.

Harassment on the basis of identity

Harassment based specifically on a person’s identity was a separate question.

Identity based verbal harassment by gender

Trans women topped the chart at 71.2%, followed by trans men at 63.3%, and non-binary people at 52.8%. Cis men and cis women experienced this at 45% and 30.2% respectively.

Identity based physical harassment by gender

16.8% of trans men experienced this, followed by 15.9% of trans women, 13% of non-binary people, 12% of cis men, and 5.7% of cis women.

Identity based sexual harassment by gender

44.8% of trans women experienced this, followed by 27.7% of non-binary people, 23.2% of trans men, 21.1% of cis men, and 20,8% of cis women.

Harassment based on identity, by gender
Harassment based on identity, by sexuality
Identity based verbal harassment by sexuality

This was most common for gay participants at 68.4%, followed closely by queer participants at 67.4%. Pansexuals experienced this at 63.4%, followed by lesbians at 60.6%, those who identified as “something else” (53.8%), bisexuals (50%), and asexuals (45.6%).

Identity based physical harassment by sexuality

Again gays experienced this at the highest rate of 21.4%, pansexuals at 20%, queers at 17.6%, “something else” at 15.7%, and lesbians at 14.5%. Bisexuals experienced this at 11.2% and asexuals at 10%.

Identity based sexual harassment by sexuality

Sexual harassment was experienced most commonly by queers at 36.4%, followed by lesbians at 31.9%. and pansexuals at 30.4%. Those identifying as “something else” followed at 30.3%, then gays at 28.9%, bisexuals at 27.7%, and asexuals at 21.7%.

Harassment at school by sexuality

Verbal harassment was most often experienced by gay people (25.6%), followed by pansexuals (24.7%), lesbians (21.7%), “something else” (22.1%), bisexuals (16.6%), and asexuals (12.6%).

Homelessness

Homelessness was most often experienced by trans women (41.3%), then trans men (39.3%), then non-binary people (31.8%). 19.4% and 19.3% of cis women and cis men experienced this.

By sexuality, homelessness was most likely to be experienced by pansexuals (31.4%), queers (28.8%), and “something else” (26.9%). 22.8% of lesbians, 21% of gays, 20.5% of bisexuals, and 19.3% of asexuals experienced this.

Psychological Distress

Much like in Aotearoa, rates of psychological distress were high due to stigma and discrimination, especially for trans people.

“Very high” psychological distress was experienced by 67.9% of trans men, 64% of trans women, and 63.7% of non-binary trans people. Cis women experienced this at 52.2%, and cis men at 34.1%.

By sexuality, pansexual (63.8%), lesbian (57.2%), and queer people (55.5%) were the most likely to experience “very high” psychological distress. This was also experienced by bisexual people at 52.8%, “something else” at 52.6%, asexual people at 48.1%, and gay people at 37.7%. “Low” distress was most commonly reported by gay people at 11.5%, those who identified as “something else” at 5.3%, and bisexuals at 4.9%.

Self harm

By gender, self harm was highest for trans men (85.8%), followed by non-binary people (76.1%), and trans women (68%), with cis women next (63.3%) and cis men last (38.6%).

By sexuality, pansexuals experienced self harm most commonly (74.3%), followed by queers (70.8%), and lesbians (68.4%). Bisexuals and “something else” came in just over 62%, and asexuals at 55.5%.

Suicide review

by gender

Suicidal ideation was most common for trans men at 92.1%, followed by trans women at 90.7%, non-binary people at 87.5%, cis women at 77.5%, and cis men at 67.6%.

A suicide plan was most common for trans men at 73.3%, followed by trans women at 61.3%, non-binary people at 58.4%, cis women at 44.9%, and cis men at 33%.

Suicide attempts were most common for trans men at 46.9%, followed by trans women at 40%, non-binary people at 34.8%, cis women at 22.7%, and cis men at 16.6%.

by Sexuality

Suicidal ideation was most common for pansexuals at 84.8% and queers at 83.1%. They were followed by lesbians at 81.5%, “something else” at 78.8%, bisexuals at 79.3%, asexuals at 75.4%, and gays at 68.8%.

A suicide plan was most common for pansexuals at 57,2%, followed by queers at 53.8%, lesbians at 50.1%, “something else” at 47.4%, bisexuals at 46.6%, asexuals at 42.9%, and gays at 37.6%.

Suicide attempts were most common for pansexuals at 35.1%, followed by both queers and lesbians at 30%, those identifying as “something else” at 25.6%, bisexuals at 23.5%, asexuals at 21.1%, and gays at 19.3%.

in the past 12 months

By gender, in the last 12 months, trans people had much higher rates of suicidal ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts than their cisgender rainbow peers.

Pansexual, queer, and lesbian populations also had higher statistics across all areas than their bisexual, gay, asexual, and other rainbow peers.