HRC Foundation Report: Epidemic of Violence Continues; Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People Still Killed at Disproportionate Rates in 2023

by Jarred Keller

Since Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022, HRC Identified 33 Deaths of Transgender People, With Black Trans Women Comprising Half of Those Deaths

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and its Public Education and Research program published The Epidemic of Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in the United States: The 2023 Report a report released on Trans Day of Remembrance to memorialize the lives of the transgender and gender nonconforming people killed this year.

Since 2013, HRC has recorded the deaths of 335 transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence–including at least 33 deaths in the last 12 months (from after Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022, or November 21, 2022, through November 20, 2023). We say “at least,” as many deaths often go unreported or misreported, or misgendering of victims leads to delays in their identification. What we do know, however, is that the 33 people we lost in the last year were overwhelmingly young and people of color, with Black trans women disproportionately impacted. A plurality of victims were killed by a friend, family, or romantic/sexual intimate partner, and guns were involved in the majority of cases.

In the last 12 months:

  • Nine in ten (90.9%) trans and gender non-conforming victims were people of color
  • Seven in ten (69.7%) were transgender women
  • More than six in ten (61.8%) were Black transgender women
  • Three-quarters (78.8%) were under the age of 35
  • Among those with a known killer, almost half (45.5%) were killed by a friend, family member, or sexual/romantic intimate partner
  • More than half (51.5%) were initially misgendered by the police or in news reports

“The epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people is a national tragedy and a national embarrassment. Each of the lives taken is the result of a society that demeans and devalues anyone who dares challenge the gender binary. In statehouses across the nation, we’ve seen bills signed into law that ban gender-affirming healthcare, make schools unsafe for LGBTQ+ youth, and ban transgender and non-binary people from public bathrooms. Even before the horrific Club Q shooting last November, we’ve seen bomb threats directed at schools, hospitals and libraries simply for supporting transgender and non-binary people. Each of these grotesque actions serves to increase stigma and create a hostile environment that endangers the lives of anyone outside the gender binary. We must imagine a better future for transgender and gender non-conforming people—not just surviving, but truly living as free and equal members of our society.”

Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign

Unfortunately, the same trends that emerged in this report, match what we have seen year over year for the 11 years since tracking began in 2013. Since 2013, fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people has disproportionately impacted the BIPOC community: At least 286 BIPOC trans and gender non-conforming people have been killed –translating to 85% of all victims identified to -date. Almost two-thirds (61.8%) of all victims have been Black trans women–a total of 207 lives lost. The majority of victims (76.4%) were under the age of 35, almost 70% of incidents involved a firearm, and many cases remain unsolved.

In 2023, for the first time in its 40+ year history, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, in response to the over 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses across the country, more than 80 of which were passed into law. The vast majority of the bills introduced in 2023— over 220—specifically targeted transgender people in an attempt to: limit access to school sports, school restrooms and locker rooms; ban access to safe, effective, age-appropriate gender-affirming medical care; and remove inclusive books and references to LGBTQ+ identities and experiences from school curricula. This occurred against a backdrop of an increasing number of anti-trans hate crimes, with the FBI reporting that the number of hate crimes based on gender identity increased 32% from 2021 to 2022.

“Almost two-thirds of the victims reported on were Black trans women, a tragedy that reflects an appalling trend of violence fueled by racism, toxic masculinity, trans misogynoir and transphobia and the politicization of our lives. These victims had families, friends, hopes, dreams and none of them deserved to have their lives stolen by horrific violence. We need everyone to join us in empowering transgender leaders, building safer, stronger communities and reducing stigma. We cannot rest until all transgender and gender non-conforming people can live our lives safely as our full selves."

Tori Cooper, Director, Transgender Justice Initiative

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