While the Trump administration continues to push policies that often disproportionately harm LGBTQ people, 2017 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, according to a report released Friday that shares the stories of 25 individuals who have been killed in the United States this year.
"It is crucial that we know these stories in order to combat the transphobia, misogyny, and racism fueling this violence so that we can end this epidemic before it takes any more lives."
—Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign
A Time to Act: Fatal Violence Against Transgender People in America 2017 (pdf)—which was co-authored by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)—notes that it "very likely" undercounts the number of transgender people killed in the U.S., but among those 25 documented in the report, 84 percent were people of color, 80 percent were women, and more than 75 percent were younger than 35.
"The unique and tragic stories featured in this report reflect the obstacles that many transgender Americans—especially trans women of color—face in their daily lives," said HRC president Chad Griffin. "It is crucial that we know these stories in order to combat the transphobia, misogyny, and racism fueling this violence so that we can end this epidemic before it takes any more lives."
In a letter preceding the report, Griffin and TPOCC executive director Kylar W. Broadus point to how comments from political leaders have exacerbated the threat to trans people in the U.S. "In 2017, when the flames of hate and discrimination are fanned by those at the very highest levels of government," they write, "the consequeces can be deadly."
"There is still so much to be done to combat transphobia across our country and around the world," they continue. "Nowhere is that more evident than at the doorstep of the White House, where [President] Donald Trump and [Vice President] Mike Pence have made discrimination against LGBTQ people, as well as so many others, a top priority."
In July, Trump announced on Twitter that he would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military; the haphazardly enacted policy faced immediate backlash, and late last month was blocked in court. In early October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a government policy that protected transgender workers from discriminiation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
"Transgender people in America face bigotry and unjust barriers that threaten their dignity and too often put them at risk of violence," Griffin and Broadus write. "While there is no single fix to this complex crisis, many solutions are right at our fingertips."
In addition to the 25 stories, the report also shares statistics from the past four years and details "ways in which individuals and their communities can take actionable steps to ensure their transgender family, friends, and neighbors can live safely and freely."
Their suggestions are:
- Educate yourself, your families, friends, and colleagues about the violence and discrimination that transgender people face;
- Oppose hateful measures against transgender people in your community and state;
- Get to know more transgender people;
- Support enhancing law enforcement response and training for interactions with transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as improving data collection and reporting on local law enforcement;
- Make schools more welcoming and safe by opposing policies such as bathroom bans;
- Support expanding healthcare coverage for transgender people, who often face discriminiation when seeking medical care;
- Encourage your municipality and state to develop discrimination protections for employment;
- Encourage lawmakers to pass the non-discriminiation protections such as the Equality Act, which would give transgender people the right to file a suit if they experience discrimination in housing, a job, public services, and education; and
- Support gun violence prevention measures such as limiting access to assault rifles, expanding background checks, and restricting access to those with a documented history of domestic abuse.
The report comes ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday, to honor those who have been killed. Since January of 2013, the two groups have documented at least 102 transgender Americans who were victims of fatal violence.