by Wyatt Ronan •
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, who was the victim of a fatally violent hate crime because of his sexual orientation. Shepard’s death sparked a movement and a reckoning on LGBTQ hate crimes. His death helped increase support for federal hate crimes legisation to protect the LGBTQ community, leading to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act which was signed into law in 2009 by the Obama-Biden administration. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement:
“22 years later, the legacy and lessons behind the murder of Matthew Shepard are as important as ever. While we have made so much progress on LGBTQ equality, this anniversary is a reminder of just how much we still have to accomplish. Today we mourn anew, for Matthew Shepard, for every victim of LGBTQ bias-motivated violence, and for the record number of violent deaths of transgender people in the United States this year. We must demand better and fight to replace the Trump-Pence administration that has outright ignored the spike in violent hate crimes, rolled back protections for LGBTQ people, and stoked the flames of division.
There is no place for the dehumanizing rhetoric that President Trump and Vice President Pence have permitted. The record number of tragic, violent deaths of transgender people -- particularly Black and Brown transgender women -- show that hateful rhetoric too often leads to horrific real life consequences. In this moment of reckoning, let’s make the United States worthy of Matthew Shepard’s memory by protecting LGBTQ people across this country by enshrining equality into law.”
On Friday, the Human Rights Campaign confirmed the United States has set a new, tragic record of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, largely against Black and Brown transgender women, surpassing the record of 31 deaths set in 2017 with a 32nd transgender death confirmed. This makes 2020 the deadliest year on record for transgender people. Despite this, the Trump-Pence administration has not even acknowledged the epidemic of violence.
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