Post submitted by: Collen Kutney, State and Municipal Program Manager
Every year, HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) finds that more and more cities are taking the lead on addressing the unique challenges the transgender community continues to face. Transgender Awareness Week calls to elevate the lived experiences of the transgender community, including the various solutions municipal leaders are taking to create more inclusive communities for their transgender residents and employees.
The 2016 MEI rated 506 municipalities across the country on how inclusive their laws, policies and services are of the LGBTQ people who live and work there. In addition to rating cities based on LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections, the report looked at life-saving and affirming municipal policies such as transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees and support services that address the needs of the transgender community. These services could include, but are not limited to, anti-violence programs, job training geared towards transgender job seekers, or post-incarceration services.
Despite unprecedented progress for the transgender community, violence and harassment remain an urgent crisis—particularly for transgender women of color. In 2015, the highest number of known transgender murders was reported. A similar number of deaths has been reported in 2016.
In the 2015 MEI, a featured issue brief titled Addressing an Epidemic of Transgender Violence: What Cities Can Do outlined the ways cities can directly engage with communities to reduce violence against transgender residents and provide services to aide transgender residents in the various disparities they face.
In many ways, municipalities are leading the way in the fight for equality for transgender people. And while significant advancements have been in made in areas like non-discrimination protections and trans-inclusive health care, the continued high rates of violence and discrimination serve as an urgent reminder of the work ahead to ensure that all residents and workers can live free from fear.