In a new report from the LGBTQ advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2017 is now on the record as the deadliest year the transgender community has had in the past decade. Due to the fact that many victims of violent crimes often go unrecorded as being transgender, the numbers from the HRC report are only minimums. In the U.S., it was recorded by the HRC that at least 25 transgender people died due to violent crimes. Of those killed, 84 percent were people of color, and 80 percent of them were trans women. A majority of those deaths came from gun violence, and four of the deaths involved a police officer. Another report from the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) research project has shown that between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, there were 325 reported killings of transgender and gender-diverse people around the world, an increase of 30 deaths compared to the previous year. The youngest victims of transgender violence were only 17 years old, and a majority of the victims were under the age of 35.
“Transgender, gender non-conforming and other LGBTQ people the world over face daunting challenges, both under the law and in their daily lives,” said the HRC’s Senior Writer Mark Lee. The transgender community is constantly left vulnerable by both the state and society, and that is a global problem. The HRC and TMM reports provided the stories of many of the trans community members who were killed. Their stories show the intolerance and discrimination each person faces and died as a result of. “Now, more than ever, we must continue to stand with our transgender friends and family in the fight for a world free of fear, violence, and discrimination,” said HRC’s president Chad Griffin.
The past year has not only been a record setting year for transgender deaths, but also a time where attempts to legalize transgender discrimination has increased. In the U.S., Donald Trump attempted to ban transgender people from serving in the military, but luckily was blocked by a district court. The trans-phobic U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced in an October memo that transgender employees would no longer be given workplace protection on account of employers, “religious freedom.”
According to a 50,000 youth HRC survey, 79 percent of participants said they witnessed bullying and harassment more frequently since the Trump campaign began, and over a fourth of LGBTQ participants said they had been bullied since election day. Attempts to legally limit the safety of transgender individuals in the U.S. has perpetuated their continual social discrimination, and helped cause the increased rates of violent crimes committed against them.
In the HRC’s 2017 report it was shown that transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty, and the group´s unemployment rate is double the U.S. national rate. These numbers show another reason why something such as the loss of legal protection is so harmful. It is also important to recognize that Oregon and the District of Columbia are the only two places in the U.S. that even recognize non-binary gender “X” on state ID’s, and that leaves a majority of transgender people not even visible to the state or federal government.
To end the continuing discrimination and killing of transgender people, actions must be taken to solve both systemic and social barriers. In the HRC’s report they say that transgender education is an important part of stopping the increasing levels of discrimination. Understanding the current struggles transgender people live through and hearing their stories helps dispel many common misconceptions, and provides visibility to every kind of transgender or gender non-conforming individual. On all fronts, the U.S. and the world will have to do better at protecting transgender people, living up to many of their commitments to freedom and equality. Changes must be made within individual’s lives, schools, places of employment, and all state institutions to protect transgender lives.
I did my undergraduate work at Pitzer College (Claremont, CA), where I earned a Bachelor's of Arts in International Political Economy.
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