US study shows 21% increase in anti-LGBT physical violence

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A US study has found a marked increase in anti-LGBT physical violence, and a disproportionate rise in anti-trans violence.

2001 incidents of violence were reported in the nation-wide survey, consistent with findings in previous years.

Conducted by Equality Michigan, the annual Hate Violence Against LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Communities Report collected data from 14 anti-violence programmes in 13 states. It is recognised as the most comprehensive study of its kind.

Homicide rates documented in 2013 and 2012 are among the highest ever recorded by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programmes.

Almost 90% of homicide victims in 2013 were people of colour. The vast majority of victims of homicide were Black and African-American; 78% fell into this category, with 11% being Latino and 11% white.

Three quarters of homicide victims were transgender women – and over two thirds of homicide victims were non-white trans women. Transgender women and non-white transgender people are the most likely targets of police brutality, with both groups being six times more likely to experience violence at the hands of police officers than other LGBTQ people.

Recently trans advocates, notably transgender women of colour, have been gaining attention within mainstream media, speaking out about the violence their community faces. Advocate Janet Mock has discussed the violence perpetuated by the media through sensationalising the stories of transgender people.

In an interview with Katie Couric earlier this year Laverne Cox, trans advocate and star of the popular TV show Orange is The New Black, also addressed the impact of violence on the transgender and gender diverse communities. Questioning the media’s focus on gender reassignment surgeries she stated: “I think that the preoccupation with transition and with surgery objectifies trans people and then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences.

“The reality of trans peoples’ lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average – if you are a trans person of colour it’s four times the national average.”

Laverne Cox has been deeply involved in the case of trans woman Cece McDonald who served 19 months in prison after a man died from wounds sustained during an attack against her. Drawing attention to the prevalence of violence against the transgender community, particularly against trans women, during her first interview on the Katie Couric Show Cox also discussed the case of Islan Nettles:

“[Islan Nettles] was just walking down the street with some friends minding her own business and she was catcalled by a couple of guys and once they realised she was trans she was beaten into a coma and five days later she died. This is the reality of so many trans people’s lives in this country.

“And by focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”

You can watch Laverne Cox’s second interview with Katie Couric here

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