‘Epidemic’ of anti-transgender violence highlighted in new report

(NEW YORK) — Thirty-three transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed by violence in the United States since last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, 2022, according to a new Human Rights Campaign report.

Twenty-six of those people were killed in 2023, the report published Monday states.

LGBTQ activists have been sounding the alarm on growing anti-trans and gender-based violence in recent years, but particularly this year, when the Human Rights Campaign declared in June a national state of emergency for LGBTQ people in the U.S.

“The epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people is a national tragedy and a national embarrassment,” said Kelly Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations. “Each of the lives taken is the result of a society that demeans and devalues anyone who dares challenge the gender binary.”

More than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced to state legislatures across the country this year, with many of them targeting the transgender community, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, and more than 80 of them were passed into law. The HRC said the number of bills is record-breaking.

Homeland Security officials said they saw a rise in attacks and threats toward LGBTQ people — including bomb threats toward schools, hospitals and libraries that supported LGBTQ events, including Pride parades and drag shows.

President Joe Biden released a statement Monday condemning the disproportionate impact of violence on the transgender community and reiterated his commitment to LGBTQ equality in America.

“There is no place for hate in America and no one should be discriminated against simply for being themselves,” he said. “While each one of these deaths is a tragedy — the true toll of those victimized is likely even higher, with the majority of those targeted being women of color.”

The majority of the victims killed in the last year were people of color, most of whom were Black transgender women. More than 78% of the victims were under the age of 35, and the perpetrator was known in only 66.6% of the cases, according to the HRC report.

Almost half of those victims were killed by a friend, family member or intimate partner, the HRC report states.

In 2022, the FBI reported the highest number of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes reported to date with more than 2,400 incidents, an increase of more than 32% from 2021 to 2022. Anti-LGBTQ attacks made up 21% of hate crimes, with 4% of them based on gender identity, according to the FBI.

The HRC said not all jurisdictions report their hate crime findings, and the FBI statistics don’t include incidents that are not reported or bias incidents that are not defined legally as hate crimes.

“A lot of people are afraid because we are seeing both the persistent nature of high levels of individual violence … alongside the weaponization of the state and state governments to target trans people,” Imara Jones, a Black trans journalist and founder and CEO of TransLash Media, told ABC News in a recent interview.

Transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

“The epidemic of violence against the trans community that we’re seeing is in part fueled by the fact that people don’t view trans lives as equal,” Jones said. “They hear about the murder of trans people and dismiss it as something that is natural or makes sense. And as long as we do that, we’re never going to be able to end that violence.”

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