Human Rights Campaign releases report on anti-trans violence in 2019

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a new annual report outlining the state of violence against trans people in the United States based on data from this year. 

The Nov. 18 report “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in the United States in 2019” came out two days ahead of this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, the 20th-annual commemoration of trans people who were murdered. The work also delves into the social factors that can contribute to fatal violence and calls for the expansion of community-based initiatives to combat the issue. 

Trans women of color, particularly folks who are Black, are ‘living in crisis,’ Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. 

“While the details of the cases documented in this report differ, the toxic intersection of racism, sexism, transphobia and easy access to guns conspire to deny so many members of the transgender and gender non-conforming community access to housing, employment and other necessities to survive and thrive,” he added. “Every one of these lives cut tragically short reinforces the urgent need for action on all fronts to end this epidemic — from lawmakers and law enforcement, to the media and our communities.”

At least 22 trans and gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2019, the report states. Of the victims, 91 percent were trans women of color, including Philadelphia’s Tameka “Michelle” Washington, who was shot to death in May. The report also discovered 81 percent were younger than 30 years old and 68 percent lived in the South. 

As of last month, only 20 states and Washington, D.C. have laws addressing hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 2013, 82 percent of trans people who died from violence were killed in states without gender-identity-inclusive hate crimes protections in place at the time of their death. More than half of the victims in the same timeframe also died in a location lacking adequate non-discrimination protections for gender identity, the report states. 

Florida, Texas and Louisiana, in descending order, clock in as the states with the most instances of fatal anti-trans violence in the last six years, the Human Rights Campaign found. 

At six fatalities, Philadelphia ranks as the city with the third-highest death rate in the same period, tied with Cleveland and trailing behind Baltimore, where seven such deaths occurred. Ninety percent of these incidents across the country occurred in areas that had a poverty rate above the 2018 U.S. average of 11.8 percent. 

Criminalization of sex work can also exacerbate violence against the trans and gender-nonconforming communities, especially trans women of color, the report indicates. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that nine in 10 trans people engaging in sex work or suspected of engaging in sex work reported being harassed, attacked, sexually assaulted or otherwise mistreated by law enforcement.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation estimates that 13-36 percent of victims of anti-trans violence since 2013 engaged in sex work at the time of their death.

The foundation’s new report was released days after the Federal Bureau of Investigation unveiled hate crime data for 2018, which revealed a 34 percent increase in violent hate-based attacks on trans people from 2017-18. 

Newsletter Sign-up