'I’ve been groped so often I wonder if this is normal' - Macleans.ca

‘I’ve been groped so often I wonder if this is normal’

Sophia Banks, a trans woman activist based in Toronto


Sophia Banks is a trans woman activist based in Toronto.

Sexual assault for me, and for so many other trans people, happens when people just grab us to see what we have, to see if we’ve had surgery or not. When I started transitioning, all of a sudden the privilege I had as a man was gone. People treated me differently; I started experiencing misogyny, trans misogyny. I had never dealt with sexual assault before and then once I came out as trans, I’ve been raped, attacked, sexually assaulted multiple times.

It’s a tough struggle, because where do trans women go to heal when so many female spaces are hostile to us?

I’ve been groped so often, I wonder if this is normal for a woman to experience. I have never reported a sexual assault to law enforcement. I did try to report a physical assault to the cops—once. I called and said I was attacked and they kept calling me ‘sir’ even after I told them that I was a trans woman. But they didn’t even understand me. After that, I just gave up. They mis-gendered me and therefore revictimized me. I don’t know any trans woman who feels safe reporting to the police because of this. It’s very difficult for us to feel safe when it comes to law enforcement.

I think in order for things to change, we need to believe people more often. As far as the trans community goes, so many people already feel that their humanity is invalidated—that we’re not going to be taken seriously when we come forward with our assaults. It’s an issue for all women, but even more so because we’re trans. So many people don’t even see me as a woman. We also see these stats in which trans people who report physical and sexual assault end up getting attacked for doing so. Police need better training to ensure they are respecting and acknowledging people’s gender identities, to start out with. We shouldn’t have to teach the police Trans 101 while we are reporting a rape.

— As told to Rachel Browne. This interview has been edited and condensed.

This story is part of #Project97 — a year-long conversation about sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Visit Project97.ca for more details on this collaborative project by Rogers-owned media outlets, and join us on Twitter with the hashtag #Project97.

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‘I’ve been groped so often I wonder if this is normal’

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Sophia. Hearing perspectives from folks who have lived pre- and post-transition is so revealing about the nature of gendered violence. I am sorry that as a trans woman that the police were even less of an option to you than they are to cis women in cases of sexual assault.

    • Jenny H,

      Are you actually reading what you wrote before you post?

      You wrote: “Hearing perspectives from folks who have lived pre- and post-transition is so revealing about the nature of gendered violence”

      Given the relatively new “psychology” surrounding trans-folks….how could you find anyone who has NOT lived pre and post transition? By its very defiinition, the trans community is born into one camp, and moves to the next. They can’t help but live both ways.

      by the way…..his name is not Sophia, it is Daryl.

      Slapping a dress on and wearing makeup doesn’t actually change his Make-up. Every cell in his body that contains a nucleus will tell you what his sex is. We’re not talking about his true sex, we’re talking about how identifies himself.

      Frankly, he could identify himself as a doberman, and we’d still have folks like you who would celebrate his strength for coming out as a canine. Give your head a shake.

      He’s a gay dude, who for whatever reason is ashamed of his sexuality, and this is how he deals with it.