Today, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus held the first-ever Congressional Forum on Violence Against the Transgender Community in an effort to raise awareness of the scourge of violence impacting the transgender community – particularly transgender women of color. HRC President Chad Griffin testified before Congress emphasizing the need to implement and enforce legislation that will protect transgender Americans and curb the rampant violence against their community.
In his testimony, which can be read in full here, Griffin said:
"Congress must pass the Equality Act to clearly and consistently prohibit discrimination against transgender people in every area of their lives: at work and at school, in seeking health care, and when accessing credit or housing.
We must also make anti-bullying laws and policies trans-inclusive and meaningfully implemented, and we must help teachers and school administrators more consistently provide real support to the victims. Congress has the power to make this change and protect all students by passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
We must demand that state and federal agencies ensure that young people in foster care and those living on the streets have access to appropriate and safe emergency housing and supportive services. And they must provide better opportunities for education and job training to give them the opportunities they need to succeed. Passage of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act is essential to ensure that transgender youth aren’t turned away from these vital shelters.
Congress should hold law enforcement agencies accountable by requiring mandatory reporting of bias motivated crime data. Finally, Congress must commit to adequately funding the programs that empower transgender people, including those that provide job training and affordable housing."
This historic forum included testimony from community organizers, advocates, and service providers on the impact and causes of violence. It included two panels: one representing the lived experience of transgender victims and educating on the scope of violence experienced by transgender people and a second panel featuring HRC President Chad Griffin and other voices of organizations dedicated to ending bias-motivated violence against transgender people. Preceding the forum at a press conference this morning, the LGBT Equality Caucus also announced the launch of a new task force focused on transgender equality.
The events come the day after the FBI released its Hate Crime Statistics for 2014. For the second year in a row, the report included statistics on bias-motivated incidents based on gender identity - which grew from 31 reported to the FBI in 2013 to 98 in 2014, though thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country did not submit data. The new statistics come just days after HRC released a joint comprehensive report with the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) on the epidemic of violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color.