WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, and the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) released A Matter of Life and Death: Fatal Violence Against Transgender People in America 2016, a new, heartbreaking report documenting the often deadly violence faced by the transgender community and exploring the factors that fuel these tragic attacks. The report comes ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day honoring transgender lives lost during the previous year, and amidst reports of a surge in hate-based violence and harassment following last week’s election.
The report recounts the stories of the at least 21 transgender people who have been murdered, and several more who died under suspicious circumstances, since the beginning of 2016. In many instances, the report notes, this violence is fueled by a deadly combination of anti-LGBTQ prejudice, racism, easy access to guns, and increasingly hateful social and political rhetoric. Of the lives lost this past year, 96 percent were people of color and 85 percent were transgender women.
“Violence against transgender people – particularly transgender women of color – remains an urgent, heartbreaking crisis,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Behind these harrowing statistics are real people who were worthy of safety, dignity, and long, full lives. This epidemic of violence serves as a powerful reminder that lives literally depend on each and every one of us to stand up against hate and violence wherever it occurs.”
TPOCC Executive Director Kylar Broadus, in a letter at the beginning of the report with HRC President Chad Griffin, said, “Despite the enormous progress we’ve made, the undercurrents of transphobia, homophobia, sexism and racism are impeding this important progress. As a result, hate violence against transgender people, particularly against transgender women of color, remains disturbingly common.”
The report also lays out steps lawmakers can take to address the reality of violence faced by many in the transgender community, including enhancing law enforcement training, expanding safe housing opportunities, passing commonsense gun violence prevention measures, improving hate crime reporting, and passing comprehensive non-discrimination protections.
While the violence documented in the report predates the presidential election, it raises the alarm about the trend of increasing violence against vulnerable and marginalized communities across the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported more than 400 incidences of hate-based harassment, intimidation or violence since the election, many of which targeted LGBTQ people. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released hate crimes statistics for 2015 that showed an uptick in all bias-motivated incidents reported last year, and an increase in gender identity-based reported hate crimes — from 31 in 2013 to 114 in 2015. The FBI data paints an incomplete picture as many law enforcement agencies throughout the country did not submit data.
Last year, HRC and TPOCC released Addressing Anti-Transgender Violence: Exploring Realities, Challenges and Solutions for Policymakers and Community Advocates, a report exploring the violence faced by the transgender community in 2015.
Today’s release of A Matter of Life and Death: Fatal Violence Against Transgender People in America 2016 marks the conclusion of HRC’s commemoration of Transgender Awareness Week, a week dedicated to the progress and unfinished work in the fight for transgender equality. This Sunday, transgender people and their allies will gather in communities across the country to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. Throughout the week, HRC has highlighted areas of focus and continued challenges for the transgender community, from workplace equality to access to inclusive and respectful health care. On Monday, HRC launched its groundbreaking Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a group of parent-advocates dedicated to fighting for equality for their transgender children. Also this week, HRC’s Workplace Equality Program introduced a new toolkit for creating welcoming workplaces for transgender employees.
For more information on Transgender Awareness Week and HRC’s work on transgender equality, visit: https://www.hrc.org/blog/topic/transgender-awareness-week