Transgender Americans facing ‘epidemic of violence’: Human Rights Campaign

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At least 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed since the beginning of the year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported Wednesday, bringing the number of violent deaths recorded by the group over the last decade to more than 300.

At least 302 transgender individuals have been killed in the U.S. since 2013, when the FBI began reporting hate crimes motivated by anti-transgender bias, the HRC said Wednesday in an annual report.

More than 85 percent of victims tracked by the group over the last decade have been people of color, including roughly 69 percent who were Black and 15 percent who were Latino. More than three-quarters, or 77 percent, were younger than 35.

At least two-thirds of violent deaths of transgender people recorded since 2013 involved a firearm, according to the HRC report. Gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety recently found that 73 percent of transgender homicides since 2017 involved a firearm.

The same report found that the number of transgender people killed over the last four years close to doubled.

The release of Wednesday’s HRC report coincides with Transgender Awareness Week, observed each year beginning Nov. 13 and leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which memorializes victims of fatal violence.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a solemn tradition, a moment where transgender and non-binary people can gather together to mourn those lost and hope for a better future,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement at the HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said Wednesday.

“Ten years and over three hundred deaths that we know of is a grim milestone,” Cooper said. “I call on transgender people everywhere and our allies to respond to this dark moment by advocating anywhere and everywhere, to whomever will listen, in support of our lived & legal equality — and, most importantly, our lives. We will honor their lives and their memories with action.”

Wednesday’s report also comes at the tail end of a year during which state lawmakers introduced at least 145 bills seeking to restrict the rights of transgender youth. At least 17 have become law across 13 states, according to HRC.

Attacks against the transgender community have also generally escalated this year.

Some conservatives have claimed that parents and physicians assisting transgender youth to get gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormones, amounts to abuse.

Boston Children’s Hospital, home to the nation’s first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program, was forced into lockdown in September following an anonymous bomb threat. A Massachusetts woman was arrested in connection with the threat, which investigators later determined was a hoax.

Other hospitals across the country have recently faced similar threats, reporting they have been on the receiving end of harassment emails, phone calls and demonstrations that have caused staff, patients and their families to fear for their safety.

“This year saw unprecedented amounts of negative rhetoric and stigma aimed by anti-equality political leaders and public figures at transgender and non-binary people, as well as their families, loved ones, and even their medical providers,” Shoshana Goldberg, the HRC Foundation’s director of public education and research, said Wednesday. “You can’t separate that from the horrific, ongoing violence against transgender people.”

According to Wednesday’s report, at least 15 transgender homicides over the last decade have occurred while victims were in police custody or incarcerated in jails, prisons or ICE detention centers, including two in 2022.

In 40 percent of cases, the killer remains unknown or at large, according to the HRC report, and of those with a known killer, at least 65 percent of victims were killed by someone they knew, including nearly a fifth that were killed by an intimate partner and 10 percent that were killed by a friend or family member.

More than a third, or 36 percent, were killed by an acquaintance.

According to HRC researchers, Wednesday’s report likely undercounts the deadly violence targeting transgender people, who may not be properly identified as transgender or gender non-conforming by police or media or on official records.

At least 70 percent of victims this year were initially misgendered by the police or media, according to Wednesday’s report.

similar inquiry led by epidemiologists in Oregon last month found that more than half of transgender people who died in the state between 2011 and 2021 had been misgendered on their death certificates.

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