Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, and the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) released a comprehensive report on the epidemic of violence against transgender people – particularly transgender women of colour. The report comes ahead of the first-ever Congressional forum set for next Tuesday on the scourge of violence against transgender people.
The joint report, Addressing Anti-Transgender Violence: Exploring Realities, Challenges and Solutions for Policymakers and Community Advocates, comes in a year when at least 21 transgender people have been killed — the most reported since 2006 when advocates began working to track reported homicides of transgender people across the United States.
“There are now more transgender homicide victims in 2015 than in any other year that advocates have recorded. At least 21 people––nearly all of them transgender women of colour––have lost their lives to violence,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This kind of violence is often motivated by anti-transgender bias; but that is rarely the only factor. At a time when transgender people are finally gaining visibility and activists are forcing our country to confront systemic violence against people of colour, transgender women of colour are facing an epidemic of violence that occurs at the intersections of racism, sexism and transphobia––issues that advocates can no longer afford to address separately.”
“The LGBT community has long counted on our non-LGBT allies to stand beside us in the fight for equality; and right now, the transgender community needs allies more than ever as we fight for our very survival,” said Kylar W. Broadus of TPOCC. “We are proud to partner with HRC on this work, and we ask all of our cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight friends, loved ones and supporters to stand up against the continuing stigma and discrimination that is killing transgender people of colour at alarming rates.”
This new HRC & TPOCC report expands on an issue brief that the HRC Foundation released in partnership with TPOCC in January; it tells the stories of victims, and highlights key data, challenges, and case studies of cities working to address violence against transgender people. Stopping violence against transgender people will require action on a number of fronts. Key recommendations made in the report include:
Passing The Equality Act
- The Equality Act, which was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public services and places, federally funded programs, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public services and places.
- The Equality Act would give transgender people recourse against discrimination that can lead them to experience homelessness or be refused services from shelters or healthcare providers, which can leave them vulnerable to fatal violence.
Supporting Emergency Housing Initiatives
- Federal agencies like the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice should enforce existing rules that prohibit discrimination against transgender people for all direct service providers, drop-in centres and shelters they fund. These rules must be paired with a broad training program on transgender cultural competency for direct service providers, drop-in centres and shelters.
- Foundations, state and municipal governments, corporations and leading philanthropists should support local LGBT community centres, drop-in centres and shelters that are already providing critical direct service to the transgender community, such a Casa Ruby in Washington, DC, or Time Out Youth in Charlotte, NC.
- The Department of Justice should ensure that programs and services that receive federal funding under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are equally available to individuals regardless of gender identity. In exceptional cases where a sex-segregated program or sex-segregated facility is essential to the operation of the program, the Department should provide meaningful notice to grantees to ensure that they know that they are required to provide comparable services. These rules should be paired with a broad training program on transgender cultural competency for direct service providers, drop-in centres and shelters.
Expanding Healthcare Coverage for Transgender People
- States should prohibit transgender-related exclusions in insurance and Medicaid and ensure that public employees can receive transgender-inclusive healthcare.
- The country’s leading insurance companies should build on the progress of corporate America by ending all exclusions on medically necessary transition-related care. They should also ensure that their medical provider networks are sufficiently broad and have the medical expertise and cultural competency to care for transgender clients.
- Physicians and other healthcare providers must increase their cultural competency and ability to provide welcoming and sensitive care for transgender patients through trainings and continuing education.
- Academic medical centres should implement the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) curricular and climate change recommendations to address healthcare disparities facing transgender people.
Addressing Unemployment through Public-Private Partnerships and Non-Discrimination Protections
- Municipalities and corporations should create public-private job training programs specifically aimed at facilitating stable employment opportunities for transgender people. Workplaces should market directly to prospective transgender employees with outreach at conferences and events across the nation.
- State and municipal governments must pass non-discrimination protections in employment that include both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Improving Educational Environments for Transgender Students
- The Department of Education should release explicit non-discrimination guidance that Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education based on sex, protects transgender and gender-nonconforming students.
- School district leaders, educators and other youth-serving professionals should create welcoming classrooms for transgender and gender-expansive students and to implement training programs that give teachers the tools they need to do so.
Improving Law Enforcement Training, Response, and Hate Crime Reporting
- Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies that govern interactions with transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, similar to the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department’s General Order on Handling Interactions with Transgender Individuals. Law enforcement agencies can also work with advocates through programs like the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service to institute trainings to ensure compliance.
- Law enforcement agencies should also educate their police officers on the importance of correctly identifying a bias-motivated crime as one based either on sexual orientation or gender identity, or ones that contain overlapping bias motivations.
- State attorneys general should ensure the full and swift investigation of all open cases of homicides against transgender victims.
- The FBI has taken important steps toward improving data collection for bias-motivated crimes based on gender identity and expression, but the most recent data reported (2013) suggests that local jurisdictions fail to report many of these crimes, including homicides, as bias-motivated. Of the 19 murders of transgender people in 2013, not a single one was reported as a hate crime, even though several clearly fall within the federal government’s parameters. Local law enforcement agencies can train officers to thoroughly and consistently report bias-motivated crimes through the FBI’s UCR system. City and county residents can call on local elected officials to ensure that law enforcement priorities reporting. Data that better reflects the true scope of anti-transgender violence will help make the case for funding and expanding programs that can prevent violence against transgender people.
- Law enforcement agencies should redouble their efforts to ensure that all crimes where there is evidence of prejudice are reported to the FBI.
Becoming Allies to Transgender People
- Advocates, organizations and individual members of the LGBT community can educate themselves about the violence and discrimination that transgender people face and commit to becoming better allies to transgender people in addressing these issues.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and non-LGBT people can use that self-education to call out transphobia when they see it both within and outside of the LGBT community, support transgender leadership and create spaces for transgender voices to be heard and followed.
Read the full report here: hrc.org/trans-violence