As of August 2017, 33 LGBTI have been killed in hate-violence-related homicides in the United States. This is more than all of 2016’s 28 deaths — not including the 49 people murdered in the Pulse nightclub shooting. The report hails from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).
The report covers the entire expanse of the US. It includes at least 15 transgender women of color and 12 cisgender gay men.
BuzzFeed News initially reported the story and importantly points out NCAVP’s categorization of hate violence ‘doesn’t necessarily mean the cases were classified as hate crimes by law enforcement, which has a different set of legal standards’. However, the information provided qualifies these acts of crime as appearing to target the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
It is not clear whether or not the increase is due to an escalation in violence, reporting crimes, or both.
‘I think whether it’s an increase in reporting, an increase in violence, or some combination thereof, it should be a wake-up call for us across our communities that hate violence is not going away,’ Beverly Tillery, executive director at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, told BuzzFeed. ‘It’s certainly not decreasing, and it’s symptomatic of larger and deeper problems in our society that we still haven’t addressed.’
A backlash against progress made on LGBTI rights
The report is not definitive, but it is eye-opening.
Dallas Drake, a senior researcher at the Center for Homicide Research, suggests ‘there are a lot more homicides of LGBT people than what they report’.
It is also impossible to conclusively say why this increase has developed.
However, Vanessa Panfil suggests it has to do with a backlash against LGBTI progress. She is an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
With the Trump administration stripping away LGBTI protections realized during Barack Obama’s terms, there is a growing fear and divide. Panfil believes this uptick in crime might be ‘influenced by heterosexism, transphobia, and homophobia that have always existed but now partly fueled by backlash’.
‘I work with a number of survivors who have been attacked in their homes, outside their workplaces, in and outside of LGBTQ bars, in parks downtown, things like that,’ said Kathy Flores, an LGBTI anti-violence program manager for Diverse & Resilient. ‘The message this sends to LGBTQ folks is clear: that we may not be safe anywhere.’