WATCH: HRC President Kelley Robinson Testifies to U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform On Surging Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism and Violence

by Henry Berg-Brousseau

HRC flag with blue background and yellow equal sign flies in front of U.S. Capitol

Watch the New Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson Testify HERE.

Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, just finished testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee about the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and violence in the United States in the wake of the recent Club Q shooting. At the hearing, titled “The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States,” Robinson discussed the threats facing the LGBTQ+ community, including a rise in online harassment, anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation, threats of violence, and attacks on queer spaces and people, particularly Black and Brown transgender women.

Robinson’s testimony comes one day after HRC released a report on the correlation between online harassment and offline violence, finding online harassment campaigns against 24 different hospitals and health care providers, across 21 states, between August and November alone. It also comes one day after the historic Respect for Marriage Act was signed into law.

Watch HRC President Kelley Robinson’s Testimony HERE.

Key excerpts of Robinson’s remarks are below:

“Violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities is the tragic result of a society that devalues our lives — particularly the lives of Black and Brown transgender and gender non-conforming people.

“And this hate and violence is on the rise.

“Fueled by nearly unfettered access to guns, and political extremism and rhetoric that is deliberately devised to make our community less safe, less equal and less free.

“Violence has become a lived reality for so many in our community...”

“This violence does not happen in a vacuum.

“Anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers’ efforts directly increase the risk of violence facing our communities today.

“State lawmakers have advanced an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ bills to restrict where and how we can freely and openly be our true selves.

“In 2022, 344 of these bills were introduced across 23 states.

“More than 25 of these bills were ultimately enacted across 13 states — 17 of which have a disproportionate or targeted impact on transgender people.

“These bills often target the youngest among us, harming children and their families.

“They also target the trained professionals, like doctors and teachers, who care for them…

The recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric amplified by lawmakers is fueling growing attacks on our communities -- in statehouses, in schools, and on street corners.

Yesterday, we released a report identifying 24 different hospitals and providers across 22 states attacked online — following misleading and inflammatory social media posts from bad actors.”

Below, find Robinson’s full oral testimony as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Chair Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and members of the committee for the opportunity to testify today.

My name is Kelley Robinson, my pronouns are she/her/hers, and I am the president of the Human Rights Campaign -- the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.

On behalf of our more than three million members and supporters, I am honored to testify at this important hearing and to demand united action to end the rising tide of hate and violence targeting our community.

I am so grateful for the strength and courage of the Club Q survivors testifying here today.

Compounding this tragedy is the fact that this incident is just one example of the violence that has shattered LGBTQ+ lives, families, and communities in the past few years.

Violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities is the tragic result of a society that devalues our lives — particularly the lives of Black and Brown transgender and gender non-conforming people.

And this hate and violence is on the rise.

Fueled by nearly unfettered access to guns, and political extremism and rhetoric that is deliberately devised to make our community less safe, less equal, and less free.

Violence has become a lived reality for so many in our community.

Even in 2021, one in five of all hate crimes reported to the FBI were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.

These violent threats disproportionately impact transgender people.

Over the last ten years, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked over 300 incidents of fatal of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people.

In 2022 so far, we have recorded the murders of 35 people.

Among the community members lost this year, 85% were people of color — and 85% were transgender women.

These acts of hatred have devastating consequences.

Often, these experiences leave community members — especially marginalized people — more likely to live in poverty, to experience housing instability and homelessness, and to lack access to opportunities that would allow them and their families to thrive.

This violence does not happen in a vacuum.

Anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers’ efforts directly increase the risk of violence facing our communities today.

State lawmakers have advanced an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ bills to restrict where and how we can freely and openly be our true selves.

In 2022, 344 of these bills were introduced across 23 states.

More than 25 of these bills were ultimately enacted across 13 states — 17 of which have a disproportionate or targeted impact on transgender people.

These bills often target the youngest among us, harming children and their families.

They also target the trained professionals, like doctors and teachers, who care for them.

These unrelenting efforts by extremist lawmakers help reinforce inflammatory narratives about our communities, regardless of whether the underlying bills are enacted.

These narratives have been weaponized many times in the past against our community — to enact discriminatory laws, to encourage extremist rhetoric, and to enable violence.

The recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric amplified by lawmakers is fueling growing attacks on our communities -- in statehouses, in schools, and on street corners.

Yesterday, we released a report identifying 24 different hospitals and providers across 22 states attacked online — following misleading and inflammatory social media posts from bad actors.

Just last week, California State Senator Scott Wiener — himself a gay, Jewish man — was the target of a bomb threat because of his work supporting trans youth and their families.

Included in the threat were two words: “pedophile” and “groomer.”

These threats are being made in every corner of the country, targeting LGBTQ+ people, our spaces, and our allies:

  • In Tulsa, vandals firebombed a donut shop after it hosted an art installation by drag queens.

  • In Texas, a pastor uploaded a video asserting that gay people be “lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.”

We must take action to prevent future violence and harm against LGBTQ+ communities.

  • First — social media companies, lawmakers, and other stakeholders must establish guidelines and practices to fight disinformation and hate online.

  • Second — we must pass the Equality Act, to level the playing field and ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected from discrimination.

  • And third — we must pass common sense gun safety measures to protect our communities from the most extreme acts of violence.

Ultimately, we must all work to repudiate anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and falsehoods in the strongest possible terms.

Because our lives are quite literally on the line.

Thank you.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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