Prevalence of Past-Year Sexual Assault Victimization Among Undergraduate Students: Exploring Differences by and Intersections of Gender Identity, Sexual Identity, and Race/Ethnicity

Robert W.S. Coulter, Christina Mair, Elizabeth Miller, John R. Blosnich, Derrick D. Matthews, Heather L. McCauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


A critical step in developing sexual assault prevention and treatment is identifying groups at high risk for sexual assault. We explored the independent and interaction effects of sexual identity, gender identity, and race/ethnicity on past-year sexual assault among college students. From 2011 to 2013, 71,421 undergraduate students from 120 US post-secondary education institutions completed cross-sectional surveys. We fit multilevel logistic regression models to examine differences in past-year sexual assault. Compared to cisgender (i.e., non-transgender) men, cisgender women (adjusted odds ratios [AOR] = 2.47; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.29, 2.68) and transgender people (AOR = 3.93; 95% CI 2.68, 5.76) had higher odds of sexual assault. Among cisgender people, gays/lesbians had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals for men (AOR = 3.50; 95% CI 2.81, 4.35) but not for women (AOR = 1.13; 95% CI 0.87, 1.46). People unsure of their sexual identity had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals, but effects were larger among cisgender men (AOR = 2.92; 95% CI 2.10, 4.08) than cisgender women (AOR = 1.68; 95% CI 1.40, 2.02). Bisexuals had higher odds of sexual assault than heterosexuals with similar magnitude among cisgender men (AOR = 3.19; 95% CI 2.37, 4.27) and women (AOR = 2.31; 95% CI 2.05, 2.60). Among transgender people, Blacks had higher odds of sexual assault than Whites (AOR = 8.26; 95% CI 1.09, 62.82). Predicted probabilities of sexual assault ranged from 2.6 (API cisgender men) to 57.7% (Black transgender people). Epidemiologic research and interventions should consider intersections of gender identity, sexual identity, and race/ethnicity to better tailor sexual assault prevention and treatment for college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 17 2017
Externally publishedYes



  • Gender identity
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual identity
  • Undergraduate students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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