Introduction: Prior research has found that experiences with violence in the U.S. differ across individual demographic characteristics, including race, gender, and sexual orientation. However, peer reviewed studies have yet to examine the relationship between the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation, victimization risk, and characteristics of victimization.
Methods: We use data from three years (2017-2019) of the National Crime Victimization Survey, the primary source of information on criminal victimization in the United States, to examine victimization at the intersection of sexual orientation, gender, and race/ethnicity. We test whether non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White sexual and gender minority (SGM) persons aged 16 or over are victimized at greater rates than their non-SGM counterparts and assess whether there are differences between sexual minority females and males of each racial group. We further document characteristics of victimization such as reporting to the police by SGM status and race or ethnicity.
Results: We find that SGMs are disproportionately more likely to be victims of violent crime than non-SGM people, and these disparities are present across the assessed racial and ethnic groups (non-Hispanic Black odds ratio [OR] = 3.3, 90% CI [CI] = 1.36, 5.16; Hispanic OR = 4.5, CI = 2.25, 6.71; non-Hispanic White OR = 4.8, CI = 2.25, 6.71). However, sexual orientation disparities are statistically distinguishable for lesbian or bisexual (LB) non-Hispanic White and Hispanic females but not for non-Hispanic Black LB females. Among LB females, the overall differences in victimization were primarily driven by bisexual respondents. We further find racial and ethnic differences among SGM victims in the likelihood of having the victimization reported to the police, in the utilization of community (non-police) resources, and in other aspects of victimization experiences, such as whether arrests occurred or in the suspicion that the violent incident was a hate crime.
Conclusions: Our findings raise indicate a complex picture of how sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and race and ethnicity interact in victimizations and their characteristics that should be further explored.