Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

LGBTQIA+ Vulnerabilities and Leadership in the Anti-Trafficking Movement


As most folx know, June is Pride month. Often, when the month is over, the rainbow flags and apparel are stored away for the next 11 months, until they find their way back to center stage when the following June rolls around. However, in the anti-trafficking movement, we must continue to acknowledge that LGBTQIA+ lives are disproportionately affected by human trafficking year-round. Our work and focus on LGBTQIA+ folx must be active and ignited every month of the year.

LGBTQIA+ Vulnerabilities

There are a number of intersectional vulnerabilities of human trafficking in the LGBTQIA+ community starting from a young age:

  • Although recent findings have shown that only approximately 9.6% of youth in America identify as LBGTQIA+, 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQIA+
  • With LGBTQIA+ youth disproportionately impacted by family rejection, homelessness, mental health issues, and substance use, they are at much higher risk to experience grooming, exploitation, and violence than their straight, cisgender peers
  • Studies have found LGBTQIA+ youth to be up to 5 times more likely to experience human trafficking than their heterosexual peers
  • LGBTQIA+ folx are also over 7 times more likely to experience sexual violence
  • One survey of homeless youth conducted by the Atlanta Youth Court found that 71% of transgender and gender non-conforming youth had experienced trafficking during their lifetime, along with 44% of LGB youth. Another important emphasis on intersectionality in the Atlanta survey is that the majority of the youth in this survey (56%) were Black LGBTQ+ youth, followed by another third (32%) identifying as Multiracial. 

In the anti-trafficking movement, we must continue to acknowledge that LGBTQIA+ lives are disproportionately affected by human trafficking year-round. Our work and focus on LGBTQIA+ folx must be active and ignited every month of the year.

In addition to youth, LGBTQIA+ folx of all ages face higher rates of intersectional vulnerabilities, such as racial violence and discrimination, lack of access to adequate mental and physical healthcare, higher rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness. Thus, in order to hold true to our mission and values, it is our job to continue to educate ourselves and others in order to best protect and serve all those who hold these identities.

 a couple stands together facing away leaning on one another
Pride month reminds us that we don’t just need LGBTQIA+ identities involved in the anti-trafficking movement after they survive a trafficking experience, we need them always.

Queering Leadership in the Anti-Trafficking Movement

With this disproportionate impact on LGBTQIA+ folx in exploitation and human trafficking, there comes a critical need for more LGBTQIA+ leadership representation in the anti-trafficking movement. There is a demand for both LBGTQIA+ survivor leaders as well as LGBTQIA+ leaders who don’t personally have lived experience of exploitation. We don’t just need these identities involved in the movement after they survive a trafficking experience, we need them always. 

As a queer and nonbinary emerging leader in the human trafficking field, I want to remind you of this: Queer, Trans, and all LGBTQIA+ lives continue to matter July through May. Black lives continue to matter when the protests simmer. Indigenous lives have mattered before and after many of us stepped foot upon their land. In order to be in full and honest support of all communities of people, we must continue to speak of, honor, and celebrate diverse lives every day of the year.

Additional Resources

Author: Aims Babich
Aims Babich is currently an intern in the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking’s Leadership Development Program. They plan to continue working as both an emerging leader in the anti-trafficking movement and a human rights activist.

Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

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