HRC & Trans People of Color Coalition Release Report on Violence Against the Transgender Community

by Sarah McBride

At least 25 transgender people have been killed in 2017, making it the deadliest year on record.

Update, January 2018: Following the release of this report in late November of 2017, four more transgender people were killed that year. Unfortunately, this brings the total number of incidents of anti-transgender fatal violence in 2017 to 29, the highest ever recorded. Please follow this link to learn more about their stories.

HRC Foundation and the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) released A Time to Act: Fatal Violence Against Transgender People in America in 2017, a heartbreaking report documenting the often deadly violence faced by transgender people and exploring factors that have made this year the deadliest on record for the transgender community.

The report comes in advance of Monday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors transgender people who lost their lives during the previous year, and amidst reports of a surge in hate-based violence and harassment that began during Donald Trump’s campaign, and continues under the Trump-Pence administration.

“The epidemic of violence against transgender people is an urgent crisis that demands the nation's immediate attention,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The unique and tragic stories featured in this report reflect the obstacles that many transgender Americans — especially trans women of color — face in their daily lives. It is crucial that we know these stories in order to combat the transphobia, misogyny and racism fueling this violence so that we can end this epidemic before it takes any more lives.”

Since the start of the year, at least 25 transgender people have been killed in the U.S., the most on record. Eighty-four percent were people of color, and 80 percent were women. Since January 2013, HRC has documented at least 102 transgender people who were victims of fatal violence; at least 87 were transgender people of color. And these disturbing numbers likely underreport deadly violence targeting transgender people, who may not be properly identified as transgender.

“Each of the stories featured in this report is unique, tragic and devastating,” said TPOCC Executive Director Kylar Broadus. “Unpacking these stories is a difficult but necessary process if we as a society want to protect the most vulnerable and address the root causes for their unjust and premature deaths.”

The report explores many of the factors that can contribute to or facilitate fatal violence. In many instances, the violence is fueled by anti-LGBTQ prejudice, racism, too-easy access to guns and increasing political attacks on the transgender community at both the state and federal level. There are a number of actions lawmakers can take to address the violence, including enhancing law enforcement response and training; improving data collection and reporting; passing non-discrimination protections; and adopting common-sense gun violence protections.

Since the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, there has been a notable increase in the vitriol and anti-transgender rhetoric -- from the top levels of government down through the rest of American society. Seventy percent of respondents to HRC’s post-2016 election youth survey reported witnessing bullying and harassment during or since the 2016 election, and almost half of LGBTQ youth said they have taken steps to hide who they are since the election. FBI data released earlier this week recorded an overall increase in hate crimes in 2016, including a rise in bias-motivated violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Today’s release of A Time to Act: Fatal Violence Against Transgender People in America 2017 marks the conclusion of HRC’s commemoration of Transgender Awareness Week, which is dedicated to the progress and unfinished work in the fight for transgender equality. Earlier this week, HRC announced that more than 1,400 parents of transgender young people have signed a National Declaration of Rights in response to continued attacks on transgender equality. Throughout the week, HRC has been highlighting areas of focus and continued challenges for the transgender community, from workplace equality to access to inclusive and respectful health care.

On Monday, transgender people and their allies will gather in communities across the country to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. For more information on Transgender Awareness Week and HRC’s work on transgender equality, visit: