Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Carlos Pavao

Second Advisor

Harry Heiman

Third Advisor

Amanda Gilmore


INTRODUCTION: Sexual and gender minorities (SGM) experience much higher rates of sexual violence compared to the general population but have been repeatedly overlooked in sexual violence and consent research highlighting the importance of understanding how SGM conceptualize consent and understand their experiences of sexual violence.

METHODS: This study was exploratory in nature and utilized a qualitative research design. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with queer and transgender adults (N=20) between the age of 18 and 30 who reside in Atlanta and have experienced sexual violence. Thematic content analysis was completed using NVivo 12.

RESULTS: Participants described similar but distinct definitions and practices of consent that were mostly consistent with the literature. Participants shared the ways lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of consent, influenced by rape myths, affected how they viewed and responded to their experiences of sexual violence. The recreation of heteronormative gender dynamics in queer relationships, masculine gender expression as a protective factor for sexual violence, and the safety of mutual understanding and support in queer community were discussed in findings specific to queerness and consent.

DISCUSSION: For many participants, because of societal conceptions of sexual violence, it took years to acknowledge and confront the trauma they experienced, delayed their seeking of support and services, and affected how they approached their future sexual encounters. To adequately address the needs and experiences of this community, sexual violence intervention and prevention efforts must attend to the unique factors that affect sexual and gender minority people who have survived sexual violence.


File Upload Confirmation