The LGBTQ community on Sunday marked Transgender Day of Remembrance by honoring transgender and gender-nonconforming people killed by violence – at least 32 this year, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign.
What was in the report? The report released this week found 85% of transgender and gender-nonconforming victims of fatal violence since 2013 have been people of color. Black transgender women represented 63% of all victims. It also found most victims – 77% – were younger than 35, and over four in five victims were transgender women.
Data limitations: The authors behind the report say the 32 victims reported is likely an undercount because of unreported deaths, misgendering and some victims not being identified as transgender or gendernon-conforming after their deaths.
The timing: The report’s release comes during Transgender Awareness Week, which raises the visibility of the transgender and gender non-conforming community and the issues they face. The week culminates in Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors those killed by transphobic violence every with vigils and name readings.
Tracking fatalities in the U.S.
The 2022 report marks 10 years of HRC tracking violence against the transgender and gender nonconforming community, reporting at least 300 violent deaths since 2013.
Among other findings over the past decade, the organization has reported that more than two thirds of deaths involved a firearm and that 70% of those killed were initially misgendered by the media and/or police.
The report also found that 15 trans people have been killed by police or while incarcerated in jails, prisons or ICE detention centers since 2013, including two in 2022.
Bringing the amount of fatal violence against the trans and gender-nonconforming community to light can help to address the factors that lead to these deaths, according to Shoshana Goldberg, director of Public Education and Research at HRC Foundation and part of the team behind the report.
“More and more people are starting to realize that there really is this epidemic of violence, and to continue to say their names and tell their stories and talk about this epidemic is one of the first steps that needs to be taken to combat it,” she said in an interview with USA TODAY.
What are the driving forces behind anti-trans violence?
Multiple factors contribute to fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S., including anti-trans stigma, hostile anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric and legislation and systemic discrimination, according to the HRC report.
“What we’re really seeing is that there are these structural social determinants that are really driving this fatal violence and it’s everything from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, as well as poverty and economic inequality that has sustained across the past decade,” Goldberg said.
Among LGBT people, transgender people have especially high rates of poverty – 29.4% – according to a 2019 study from the Williams Institute, a think tank focused on LGBTQ issues at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Transgender women in particular also earn approximately 60 cents for every dollar the typical U.S. worker earns, according to an HRC Foundation analysis from earlier this year.
“In general, anti-trans stigma leads to denial of opportunities in society: employment discrimination, health care, piratical poverty, homelessness being pushed out of the formal economy into the more informal economy,” Goldberg said.
The report also comes alongside a rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation and debates over LGBTQ rights in the U.S. in recent months, including pushes for the removal of LGBTQ books from school libraries, lawsuits over Pride flags in classrooms and legislation banning transgender students from participating in school sports.
Who are the victims?
In addition to breaking down the statistics by race, location and other demographics, the report also shares details about the lives of those who were killed in 2022.
Among them was Aaron Lynch, a 26-year-old trans man who was shot and killed by police in McLean, Virginia, in July while experiencing a mental health crisis.
Acey Morrison, 30, a Two-Spirit person from Rapid City, South Dakota was known as a “kindhearted, down to earth, joyous, respectful and loving soul” who was a “helpful and giving person who was always there for her family and friends,” according to the report. Morrison was shot and killed Aug. 21.
Shawmaynè Giselle Marie, a 27-year-old nursing assistant killed in June in Gulfport, Mississippi, was remembered by family and friends on social media as a “loving, funny, kind and genuine person,” according to HRC.
Contributing: The Associated Press