41% of trans people in US south face police violence, report says

LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City

Almost half of transgender, gender non-binary and gender non-conforming people in America’s southern states experience “high levels of violence by law enforcement,” a report has found.

This number jumps to 52 percent when looking only at respondents of colour.

The Grapevine: A Southern Trans Report was carried out by the Transgender Law Center at Southerners on New Ground (TLC@SONG), a collaboration between two LGBT+ advocacy groups based in Atlanta, Georgia.

“As a black trans woman in the South, I’m personally all too familiar with the findings laid out today,” said Southern regional organiser for TLC@SONG Kayla Gore.

“The one constant through the widespread discrimination we face is our ability to support and rely on each other, which is why it’s incredibly powerful to have data created by and for trans and gender nonconforming people living in the South.

“Trans Southerners like me can use the Grapevine Report as proof of our lived experiences as we advocate for the resources, services, and solutions our communities need.”

Of the 135 respondents, 32 percent were trans women, 31 percent were gender non-binary and 20 percent were trans masculine.

Transgender women especially face disproportionate levels of violence in the US.

47 percent of those surveyed faced violence from strangers, a number which increases to 58 percent when looking at trans women or those who identify a trans feminine.

Four out of 10 of those surveyed also experienced high levels of violence from healthcare providers.

When identifying areas of priority for change, 44 percent answered “primary care and HIV-inclusive health care” while 21 percent said “law enforcement accountability.”

A woman holds up a sign that protests violence against transgender people while participating in the San Francisco Pride parade in San Francisco, California on Sunday, June, 26, 2016. / AFP / Josh Edelson (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Woman at San Francisco Pride 2016 (Getty)

‘We dig deep. We do the work.’

One respondent from Selma, Alabama, said: “We walked through downtown Selma as a crew of Black trans women and the fear was constant. We felt many eyes on ourselves as we were out in public, worried about violence coming from anywhere — and we would have no recourse.”

TLC@SONG asked participants how they heal and support themselves to fuel “everyday resistance” to violence.

“We dig deep. We do the work. We share food, we house protesters, people visiting for workshops, people passing through. We spread quilts on extra mattresses for guests; we give them cornbread and sweet coffee and say see you next time, brother; solidarity, sister. Be loved. Be safe,” said a respondent from Knoxville, Tennessee.