We say “at least” because the stories detailed in this report very likely undercount the number of transgender and gender non-conforming people who were killed.
Although advocates, bloggers and media groups have elevated the epidemic of violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in the past several years, data collection is often incomplete or unreliable when it comes to violent and fatal crimes against the trans community. Some victims’ deaths may go unreported or misreported, while other victims may not be identified as trans or gender non-conforming.
In this report, we shed light on the epidemic of violence taking the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people. We remember the individuals who were taken from us in the past year, and provide an analysis of data we have collected since 2013— the year the Federal Bureau of Investigation began reporting on hate crimes motivated by anti-transgender bias. Based on these statistics, we provide action items that can help end the violence.
In life, each of the individuals memorialized in this report went to extraordinary lengths to live authentically. In death, we must honor their truth and bravery with action.
This report comes amidst a shocking wave of anti-transgender legislation. In 2023, for the first time in their 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. This is a record high for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking—beating out 2022, which, with 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills enacted, previously held the record for most anti-LGBTQ+ bills enacted in a single year.
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 (a la “don’t Say LGBTQ”). Coordinated efforts led by well-funded right-wing extremist organizations such as the Family Research Council, Heritage Action, and the Alliance Defending Freedom have led to similar efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives, including attempts to pass nationwide trans sports bans and bans on gender affirming care, as well as attempting to enact anti-LGBTQ+ legislation through attaching extraneous riders to appropriation bills.
Against this backdrop of discriminatory legislation, attacks on the transgender and gender non-conforming community, as well as the LGBTQ+ community and its allies writ large, are on the rise. Proponents of anti-trans legislation in state houses and Congress, have often relied on hate-filled rhetoric that demonizes transgender people and their allies, perpetuates misinformation, and legitimizes anti-trans stigma, violence, and hate.
Such rhetoric has, unfortunately, begun to translate to real world violence: 2022 saw the highest number of anti-LGB and anti-trans and gender non-conforming hate crimes reported by the FBI to date, with the number of hate crimes based on gender identity increasing by over 32% from 2021 to 2022.
Almost 500 gender identity-motivated hate crimes were recorded in 2022, accounting for 4% of all hate crimes recorded in that year; anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes overall accounted for more than one in five (20.8%) hate crimes. And this number is an undercount, given that FBI data reporting does not capture all hate crimes, as not all jurisdictions track anti-trans hate crimes, nor do all jurisdictions report hate crimes to FBI databases.
In addition to the FBI-reported hate crime incidents , between the beginning of 2022 and late April 2023 GLAAD recorded 161 different attacks against drag events, including bomb threats, vandalization, armed and violent protests, and in one instance the firebombing of venues that hosted Drag Story Hour and other all-age drag events. These attacks were part of the more than 350 anti-LGBTQ+ incidents across 46 states, recorded by GLAAD and the ADL over the same period. June 2023 saw 145 additional anti-LGBTQ+ extremism incidents recorded at Pride events across the country. Transphobic violence and hate has even taken the lives of several cisgender allies this year, such as in the case of Colin Michael Smith, a White cisgender man in Oregon who was stabbed and killed while defending a non-binary friend from an assailant “hurling anti-LGBTQ+ slurs,” and Laura Ann Carlton, a White cisgender woman in California, who was shot and killed for refusing to stop flying a pride flag over her store.
These attacks are occurring against a community which is already vulnerable and marginalized. As detailed in HRC’s report “Dismantling a Culture of Violence," transgender and gender non-conforming people face multiple forms of sigma, which result in lower access to status, power, and resources, and higher risk of discrimination, including in employment, healthcare, and housing. Together, this contributes to higher risk of poverty and homelessness/housing insecurity, social isolation, and worse physical and mental health outcomes, which in turn results in increased risk for violence.
Such stigma, bias and discrimination compounds for transgender and gender non-conforming people who hold multiple marginalized identities. Transgender women and transgender people of color are at elevated risk of fatal violence, and the risk is compounded for Black transgender women, who comprise the vast majority of victims of fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people.
We identify victims through daily monitoring of local news and social media; in some cases, loved ones of the victims will also reach out to HRC directly to report a new case. To obtain additional information about each case in order to determine eligibility, we identify the victim’s online presence, identify those memorializing the victim, and reach out to activists in their local community.
We do not include every death of a transgender, gender-nonconforming, or non-binary person. To be included:
The victim must have identified as transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, or some other non-cisgender identity at the time of their death. Throughout, we have taken every effort to ensure our memorials reflect the most accurate depiction of each individual’s identity, based on their own words, the accounts of loved ones, and the ways in which they presented themselves and interacted with the world.
When there are conflicting reports about the name, pronouns, and/or gender identity of a victim, we use those which were utilized by the victim themselves on social media or in their daily lives; in the absence of this information, we use the pronouns and names utilized by those closest to them. As a result, names and gender in our reporting may not always match those in official reports and/or legal documentation, particularly for those who were unable to obtain legal recognition and updated identification documents that matched their identity at the time of their death.
Data on each case are gathered through a quarterly review of news reports, police reports, case records, and discussions with local advocates and loved ones of the victims, and then recorded in an internal database.
The information presented in this report reflects the most recently available data on all included cases, as identified to the best of our ability. Because new details and updates may emerge as cases work their way through the justice system, and/or as law enforcement agencies release new information, data in this report may not always reflect what was noted in original reporting, or what may emerge in the future.
Between 2013 and 2022 (the most recent year for which data is available), the FBI recorded 21 fatal hate crimes committed against trans and gender non-conforming people, including bias-motivated deaths categorized as murder, manslaughter, or negligent manslaughter, far fewer than the 335 deaths recorded by HRC.
The discrepancy is due to the fact that ‘hate crime’ carries a legal definition, albeit one which differs between jurisdictions, and across state and federal regulations. In addition, not all jurisdictions collect and/or report hate crimes data to the FBI, meaning that the FBI’s database is incomplete. For the purpose of our reporting, a case is only categorized as a hate crime if it has been officially categorized as such under an existing federal or state hate crime statute—meaning that a person has been charged, convicted, and/or sentenced. However, a case does not have to be categorized as a hate crime, to be included in our reporting.
This does not discount the many cases where bias, hate, and structural violence and stigma played a role in the killing of individuals, including indirectly through fostering the conditions in which the death occurred (e.g. if a person was killed while engaging in survival sex work, after being pushed out of the formal economy). Nor does it discount the fact that many cases may be motivated by anti-trans hate, regardless of if this rose to the level of meeting the legal definition for hate crime in their jurisdiction.
In commemoration of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), HRC remembers the lives and mourns the loss of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the 12-month period between TDOR 2022 and TDOR 2023.
Below we honor each of the 33 lives lost in this time period, including the 26 people lost in 2023 and the 7 people lost in 2022 after TDOR 2022 and the publication of our 2022 report, “An Epidemic of Violence 2022: Fatal Violence Against Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People in the United States in 2022.”
To read more about each of these people and the lives they lived, see our memorials for them here: “Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2023" and “Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2022.”
Jasmine “Star” Mack’s sister, Pamela Witherspoon, said that Jasmine was “a sweet person.” She also said that her sister “loved to sing gospel songs and was an excellent actor.” The 36-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed in Washington, D.C. on January 7, 2023.
Wilmington, North Carolina
According to local news, KC Johnson's partner Bulla Brodzinski remembered her as being “kind and caring." The 27-year-old white transgender woman who was killed in Wilmington, North Carolina on January 14, 2023, after being declared missing on January 13.
Unique Banks, a 21-year-old Latina trans woman, was killed in a mass shooting along with her mother, Alexsandra Olmo, on January 23, 2023, in Chicago. Unique’s father Omar Burgos said that his “heart is torn apart” and that he had hoped for her to live with him in Florida. Three other people, including two other trans women, were also attacked during the shooting, leaving them in critical condition.
On a GoFundMe page for Zachee Imanitwitaho’s funeral expenses, the Black transgender woman was described as someone who was “well-loved by family, friends, and coworkers, and that she lived her life bravely and authentically.” She immigrated to the U.S. from Rwanda and was killed on February 3, 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky in the parking lot of her workplace.
Maria Jose Rivera Rivera, a 22-year-old Latina transgender woman, was described by her immigration lawyer as “lively, funny, and dynamic” and “a joy to work with.” On January 21, 2023, Maria Jose was found fatally shot in Houston, one of two people found dead at an apartment complex in an apparent murder-suicide.
In a GoFundMe started to help cover funeral costs for Chashay Henderson, the 31-year-old Black transgender woman is described as “a bubbly spirit with a down to earth, tell it like it is personality,” who was “as beautiful as can be, inside and out.” The GoFundMe also notes that Cashay is survived by her father, mother, sister, and niece, as well as other family and “many, many friends.” Chashay was shot in Milwaukee on February 26, 2023.
Tortuguita, a 26-year-old Indigenous queer and non-binary environmental activist and community organizer, is remembered as a “radiant, joyful, beloved community member” who “brought an indescribable jubilance to each and every moment of their life,” and “fought tirelessly to honor and protect the sacred land of the Weelaunee Forest. They took great joy in caring for each and every person that they came across."
Tortuguita was shot and killed by Georgia state troopers in Atlanta, Georgia on January 18, 2023 during an ongoing protest alongside other self-described “forest defender” protestors against a proposed $90 million, 85-acre police training facility deemed “Cop City” by activists, slated to be built in the Weelaunee Forest in Atlanta.
St. Mary’s County, Maryland
Tasiyah Woodland was a Black "high-spirited” transgender woman who was “protective of those she loved." On a GoFundMe page, Tasiyah's aunt, Lizzy Woodland, said "she made everyone around her know that they were loved."
Tasiyah was tragically killed in St. Mary’s County, Maryland on March 24, 2023.
Ashley Burton was a 37-year-old Black transgender woman who was described as “a courageous fighter” by her cousin. Her brother Patrick praised her authenticity as a trans woman saying, “The way my sibling moved in life, it was…take it or leave it. ‘This is how I am.’ You can respect it or neglect it, but Ashley put it out there and let that person know. It’s not going to be a secret."
Ashley was killed in Atlanta Georgia on April 11, 2023.
Koko Da Doll was a 35-year-old Black transgender woman, a successful rapper who was working on new music, and starred in the barrier-breaking, award-winning Sundance Film Festival documentary, “Kokomo City.”
Tragically, Koko was found shot to death near an Atlanta shopping plaza on April 18.
San Francisco, California
Banko Brown was a 24-year-old Black trans man who is remembered as being “brilliant” and as someone who made “everybody laugh.” Julia Arroyo, the co-executive director of the Young Women’s Freedom Center where Brown was working as a community organizing intern, said Banko “made friends easily and connected deeply with others.”
On April 27, 2023, he was killed by an armed security guard in San Francisco after an altercation with an armed security guard at a local Walgreens store.
Ashia Davis was a 34-year-old Black transgender woman from Detroit who was full of joy, devoted to her faith, and a loving dog owner to a Yorkie named Clyde. On June 2, 2023, the second day of Pride Month, Ashia was found dead in a Highland Park hotel room. Allona Anderson, Ashia’s good friend who is also transgender, spoke to FOX2 News and said they had known each other since they were children. “And we loved each other. That was a good friend of mine."
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Chanell Perez Ortiz, a 29-year-old Puerto Rican transgender woman, was a cosmetologist. She was interested in fashion, makeup and hair styles. She shared quotes from French designer Coco Chanel.
According to PGH Lesbian Correspondents, Channel “shared a lot of playful, fun content, and clearly had strong friendships with people who are grieving her deeply.” Channel was killed in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on June 25, 2023.
Monroe, South Carolina
Jacob Williamson, an 18-year-old transgender man, worked at a local Waffle House and was beloved by coworkers and even had moved in with one of them about a month prior to his death, according to his coworker’s TikTok account. Jacob loved to sing and draw.
Jacob was killed in Monroe, South Carolina, on June 30, 2023.
Winter Park, Florida
Camdyn Rider, a 21-year-old white transgender man, was eight months pregnant at the time of his murder which occurred on July 21, 2023, outside his home in Winter Park, Florida. Camdyn had recently posted on Facebook about how excited he was to welcome a child into the world.
According to reports, DéVonnie J’Rae Johnson - a 28-year-old Black transgender woman - was a vibrant artist who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She had moved to Los Angeles in order to transition. Those who knew her called her “a well-loved and cherished friend and member of the community.”
DéVonnie was shot and killed on August 7, 2023, during an altercation with a security guard just one day after her birthday, according to news reports and social media.
East Chicago, Indiana
Thomas ‘Tom-Tom’ Robertson, a 28-year-old Black gender non-conforming person, was working as a cook at a local IHOP restaurant in East Chicago, Indiana, having relocated there from Chicago, Illinois, where he was born and raised. Thomas frequently changed the color and style of his hair, posting photos online showcasing his creativity.
On August 17, 2023, Thomas and a 25-year-old individual were victims of a fatal shooting in Calumet City, Indiana.
New Orleans, Louisiana
YOKO was a talented nonbinary artist and DJ. YOKO loved their family and their friends, who remember YOKO as “an exceptional, joyful, absurdly talented, and extremely loving and gentle human.” YOKO’s work included modeling, tattooing, murals, publications, solo showings, curating art shows, and doing live works for different shows and events.
YOKO was killed when they were struck and killed by a driver of an SUV on September, 19, 2023. The driver fled the scene.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Luis Ángel Díaz Castro was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico where he studied at The Universidad de Puerto Rico en Arecibo and worked in the Department of Education at the time of his unfortunate murder on August 12, 2023, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Luis was a 22-year-old trans man remembered by his family for his love of Latino music, noting Hector Maysonet and Chema y JohnD as his favorite music artists.
Chyna Long was a 30-year-old Black transgender woman who was passiomate about dance. Her father remembered her, saying, “She is a choreographer. Since 18 years old, kids came to the house, girls by droves, and she would teach them dancing.” On October 8, 2023, Chyna was shot dead in an attack her family suspects may be a hate crime. Her aunt said “They took a piece of our joy.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Sherlyn Marjorie was a 35-year-old Latina transgender woman and drag performer who one friend remembered as “the best impersonator in Tijuana, my second Edith Marquez.” On September 17, 2023, Sherlyn was killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A suspect, Sherlyn’s former intimate partner, has been charged with her murder.
A’nee Johnson was a 30-year-old Black transgender woman from Washington D.C. who was well loved by many friends. Tragically, on October 14, 2023, A’nee was killed during an assault when she was pushed into a roadway and hit by a car. The driver of the car, who was not involved in the assault, stayed at the scene. Homicide detectives are searching for the person who assaulted her and caused her death.
Dominic Dupree, who was also known as Dominic Palace, was a 25-year-old Black gender non-conforming person from Gary, Indiana, who operated companies including Private Protection Division LLC and Hondo IV Lawncare and Snow Removal LLC. Tragically, Dominic was fatally shot in Chicago on October 13, 2023. Homicide detectives are currently investigating. On social media, several of Dominic’s friends and family members expressed their grief and condolences.
Lisa Love, was a 35-year-old Black transgender woman from Chicago, Illinois who one friend described as “funny, smart, beautiful and a breath of fresh air to this world.” Tragically, on October 17, 2023, she was fatally shot in Chicago, Illinois while walking home from a friend’s house.
London Price, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was described by her aunt as being “always beautiful and pretty,” saying, “She’ll give you the shirt off her back, and I think that’s kind of what put her in this situation to get her hurt.” London was fatally shot in Miami-Dade County on October 23, 2023.
LaKendra Andrews, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was from Shreveport, Louisiana, and was the founder of a non-profit. According to PGHLesbian Correspondents, LaKendra was “interested in cooking, drawing, dance, baking, and music. She was a fan of Nicki Minaj.”
On April 29, 2023, LaKendra was fatally shot in Dallas, Texas. LaKendra’s death is at least the 26th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. Initial reporting misgendered LaKendra, and we recently learned of her death from Nu Trans Movement, Inc.
Since January 2013, HRC and other advocates have identified 335 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who were victims of fatal violence in the United States.
As of this report’s release on November 20, 2023, we have recorded 33 fatalities since the last Transgender Day of Remembrance, including 25 deaths to-date in the calendar year of 2023.
Fatal violence impacts transgender and gender non-conforming people of all ages, races, gender, gender identities, and from rural and urban areas. However, people living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities have been disproportionately impacted relative to others. Specifically, Black transgender women, who face multiple layers of violence due to their gender identity, gender, and race, comprise 62% of all victims of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Below, we present a summary of trends that have emerged in our 11 years of tracking fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, focusing on trends from all years, as well as in the last 12 months. Unfortunately, even as the numbers change, many of the patterns remain the same, year over year.
In doing so, this data provides us with one of many useful tools in fighting for justice for transgender and gender non-conforming people across the U.S. and combatting violence against them, while ensuring their memories are kept alive.
Fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people disproportionately affects people of color.
Since 2013, approximately 85% of victims were people of color (n= 286), defined as identifying as any race/ethnicity other than exclusively white.
More than two-thirds of victims (69%) victims identified as Black (n=232), either exclusively or in combination with other racial/ethnic identities.
15% of victims were Hispanic /Latine (n=50).
Roughly 13% of victims were white (n=42).
In the 12-month period between TDOR 2022 and TDOR 2023, people of color accounted for more than 9 in 10 victims (90.9%; n=30), with Black people specifically accounting for 7 in 10 victims (69.7%; n=23). Over a fifth (21.2%; n=7) were Hispanic/Latine. A little over 9% of victims were white (9.1%; n=3).
Transgender women account for the vast majority of fatal violence victims.
Since 2013, at least 279 transgender women have lost their lives to fatal violence— over four in five (83.3%) of all cases identified.
In addition, 29 (8.7%) were transgender men, and 27 (8.1%) were people who do not exclusively identify as men or women, which includes the following identities:
At least 23 transgender women have been killed since TDOR 2022---approximately 70% of the victims identified using the above criteria in this twelve-month period.
More than one in six (18.2%; n=6) victims identified in this period were transgender men, and the remaining 12.1% (n=4) identified as some other non-cisgender identity.
As those living at the intersection of multiple marginalized racial/ethnic and gender identities, transgender women of color—and Black transgender women in particular—are disproportionately affected by the epidemic of violence against transgender people.
Three-quarters (74.9%) of all victims identified since 2013 were transgender women of color—a total of 251 people.
This includes 207 Black trans women, who account for more than six in ten (61.8%) of all known victims.
In the last 12 months, trans women of color accounted for two-thirds of all victims (66.7%; n=22), with Black trans women accounting for more than half (51.5%; n=17) of all known victims in this period.
Age was known for 97.3% of all victims since 2013 (n=326). In the 11 years of tracking, the age of transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence ranged from 16 to 66 years at the time of their death, with an average age of approximately 30 years old.
Among those with known age, over three in four (76.4%; n=249) victims were under the age of 35, including a little under one in ten (9.5%; n=31) who were under the age of 21. Eleven of them were minors under the age of 18.
Among the 33 victims identified in the last year, the average age of victims at the time of their death was 28.1 years.
Any number of transgender and gender non-conforming lives lost to fatal violence is too many.
However, half of all identified cases—171, or 51%–have occurred in the last four calendar years alone.
To date, cases have been recorded in 177 cities and towns, across 38 states, territories and the District of Columbia. Fatal violence is found in blue states and red states, in cities and rural areas. It is also concentrated in some pockets of the country, including both those with larger transgender populations (and larger populations overall), and more restrictive anti-transgender legislative environments.
Almost two-thirds (63.6%) of all victims identified to date were killed in just ten states: Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and North Carolina.
Texas and Florida, two states with some of the most extensive slates of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in place, are home to the highest number of fatalities, with 34 reported in Texas, and 31 reported in Florida.
At the same time, California, which has non-discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity, and which has declared itself a sanctuary state for transgender youth seeking medical care, is home to the third highest number of fatalities, with 23 fatalities –including three in the last 12 months.
When looking at specific cities, 10 or more victims have been reported in Chicago (n=15), Houston (n=11), Miami (n=10), and Philadelphia (n=10).
Fatalities in the last 12 months have been reported across 26 cities and towns in 16 states.
Georgia and Illinois were each home to four fatalities in the last 12 months, and California and Texas were close behind with three fatalities recorded in each. Washington, DC, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and Wisconsin each recorded two deaths. Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Kentucky, and Louisiana were each home to one death.
Arrests do not equal justice, but for many families, friends and loved ones of victims, arrests can maybe provide a moment of closure or a small sense of justice. Unfortunately, for many transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence, their cases remain unsolved, or not prosecuted.
In 4 out of 10 cases (40.3%; n=135) since 2013, no arrest has been made and the killer remains unknown (37.9%; n=127), or a named suspect remains at large (2.4%; n=8).
To date, there has been an arrest in more than half of all cases (55.8%; n=187).
The killer is unknown in one-third of all cases (36.1%; n=121).
In those cases where the killer(s) have been identified, half of all victims (50.5%; n=108) knew their killer. Among these cases where the relationship between the killer and victim were known:
However, random acts of violence occurred as well. Three in ten (29.4%; n=63) trans people with a known killer were killed by someone with whom they had no prior relationship.
Since 2013, a total of 16 people have died either at the hands of, or while in custody of, law enforcement.
This includes 11 people who were killed by the police–all of whom were killed by officer-involved shooting. One of these victims were killed in the last year. Five people died while in police custody, either in jail or ICE detention facilities. In addition to these 16 deaths, two people in the last 12 months alone—both of whom were Black—were killed by armed security guards.
Gun violence is a major contributing factor to the number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Since 2013, at least 233 trans and gender non-conforming people have been killed with a gun—approximately seven in ten (69.6%) of all identified fatalities. Guns were used in all police involved killings, more than 80% of killings by a friend or family member, and over half (58.3%) of all killings by an intimate partner.
In the last 12 months alone, approximately 70% of all fatalities, or 23 out of 33, involved a firearm/gun violence.
When reporting on transgender and gender non-conforming victims, it is incredibly important to refer to them with the correct pronouns and name. Not only does this afford them dignity and respect, as well as honor their identity and autonomy, it also aids in accurate reporting and victim identification. Unfortunately, far too many transgender and gender non-conforming victims are misgendered after death.
Since 2013, two-thirds (66.9%; n=224) of fatalities were initially misgendered by the media and/or police or criminal justice system.
Though advocates have been pushing for years for the press and law enforcement to adopt better practices around deadnaming and misgendering, minimal success has been made: More than half of the 33 fatalities in the last 12 months (n=17) were initially misgendered by the media and/or police.
Several factors contribute to the high risk for violence experienced by trans and GNC folks. Ending this epidemic requires addressing and eliminating anti-transgender stigma and discrimination across all facets of society and embracing people of all genders for who they are.
Read the following sections to learn how you can take action to help end the violence.
Although there are a few existing legal protections for transgender and gender nonconforming people at the federal and state level, this violence cannot be stemmed until the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people are fully realized and our systems are reformed to address the epidemic and its root causes.
Despite significant steps forward, LGBTQ+ Americans lack basic, explicit non-discrimination protections in states across the country. The patchwork nature of current laws leaves millions of people subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their families and their day-to-day lives. And while the Bostock decision provides vital protections, it does not apply to all areas of civil rights law and a future anti-equality administration could seek to limit its enforcement. The Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service. The Equality Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2021 and received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was not passed by the Senate. To become law, it must pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the president.
Currently, 33 states allow perpetrators of violent crimes to assert the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a so-called “panic defense.” The “panic defense” allows a criminal defendant to argue in court that their discovery of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused the defendant’s violent reaction, potentially leading to a reduced charge or sentence, or even an acquittal. Thankfully, in recent years 17 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted these bans. Going forward, the states without such bans in place must enact equivalent legislation, enshrining into law policies which clearly state that that neither non-violent sexual advances by LGBTQ+ individuals, nor the discovery of a person's LGBTQ+ identity (or even their presumed identity), can be deemed as adequate provocation or justification for acts of violence or harassment. The passage of such legislation will help to end the legitimization of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people and ensure that LGBTQ+ victims obtain equal justice.
Congress should adopt legislative reforms that address over-policing and police brutality, misconduct and harassment affecting Black people throughout the nation. These reforms should minimally include implementing a strong federal use of force standard; banning chokeholds and similar excessive force maneuvers; prohibiting racial profiling and requiring robust data collection on police-community encounters; banning federal programs that militarize law enforcement; eliminating no-knock warrants; amending existing federal laws to permit prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties; developing a national public database of officers who engage in misconduct; and ending qualified immunity which prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law.
The criminalization of consensual sex work poses a serious threat to public health and increases violence in LGBTQ+ communities. Laws criminalizing sex work disproportionately punish the poor, Black and Brown women, transgender women, and those living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. States and the federal government should repeal laws that make consensual sex work illegal and should instead focus on providing critical services and protections for those who engage in transactional sex work as a means of survival.
Increase LGBTQ+ Data Collection at the Federal and State Level
Because gender identity is not included in most government data collection efforts, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals remain largely invisible to the local, state and federal officials charged with ensuring their health, safety and wellbeing. Currently, no state or the federal government has a comprehensive law that requires all government data collection efforts to include gender identity data alongside other demographic data. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act in June 2022, legislation which would help ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people are counted when vital funding, policy and programmatic decisions are made. In order to become law, it must pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the president. In positive news, however, the U.S. Census Bureau recently announced plans to begin testing sexual orientation and gender identity questions on the American Community Survey, creating a pathway towards greatly increasing the availability of federal LGBTQ+ data.
Though at the federal level, gender markers can be updated on passports (including to allow for a third “X” gender marker), a patchwork of laws govern changes to birth certificates and driver’s licenses across states. Currently, 12 states do not have policies in place to facilitate gender marker updates on birth certificates or driver’s licenses, and in 10 states, gender markers can only be changed on driver’s licenses. In a step backwards, in recent years, 3 states (Montana, North Dakota, and Tennessee) , have passed laws which actively seek to prohibit trans people from obtaining identity documents that accurately reflect who they are. All states should ensure that the process for updating names and gender markers on both driver’s licenses and birth certificates is free of unnecessary and restrictive requirements. Moreover, state-issued identification documents should include a non-binary gender marker designation.
Using a transgender or gender non-conforming person’s chosen name and pronouns is a sign of respect and inclusion. It signals that their identity is valid, even after death. When police and media reports use the correct names and pronouns of the deceased, it also helps with recording important demographic data and shedding light on the issue of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Too often, transgender and gender non-conforming people lack explicit protections from discrimination. By including gender identity in non-discrimination policies, we can ensure transgender and gender non-conforming people feel safe in their jobs, in public accommodations and in their daily lives.
The 2023 state legislative session was the worst year on record for LGBTQ+ rights, with more than 80 anti-LGBTQ+ bills signed into law across more than 20 states. Over 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 41 states. As we look to the 2024 legislative session, many of the bills that failed to pass in 2023 are likely to be reintroduced, driven by a coordinated effort from right-wing organizations to ban transgender youth from playing school sports or using restrooms/locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity, to ban teachers and schools from affirming chosen names and pronouns, and to block or severely restrict access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth (and, in some states, even transgender adults). Such bills ingrain discrimination and hate into law, perpetuate stigma and marginalization of transgender people, and harm the health and well-being of transgender youth (while also denying them access to supportive resources).
Increased representation of transgender and gender non-conforming people allows them to share their stories authentically to wider audiences. This increases tolerance in society as more and more people can recognize transgender and gender non-conforming people as important parts of the communities.
Trans and gender non-conforming people face many forms of stigma, including lack of acceptance by friends and family, a hostile political climate and negative stereotypes or lack of representation in pop culture and the media. All of these factors lead to their dehumanization and increase their risk of experiencing violence.
However, these dire outcomes are not an inevitability. We all have a responsibility to combat them by building inclusive environments in education, the workforce, healthcare and all aspects of society. We need to ensure our communities have access to training and support to create environments where transgender and gender non-conforming people experience a community of belonging. We need to recruit allies by rejecting transphobic language and having conversations with those around us who may need to learn more.
This FAQ provides answers to some of the key questions often asked about transgender and non-binary peopleRead Our Guide
Understand the social, structural, and cultural determinants of the epidemic of fatal violence faced by the transgender and gender non-conforming communityRead Our Report
This resource, one in a series of Coming Out guides, is meant to help anyone and everyone whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth navigate the coming out process.Read Our Guide
Read our FAQ document, Get the Facts on Gender-Affirming Care, to better understand what gender-affirming care is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important to fight against legislation that seeks to ban it
Covering transgender people, including those making the very personal decision to transition, can be challenging for reporters unfamiliar with the increasingly visible transgender community. This guide can help you get it right.Read More
This report details findings from a 2021 Civis Analytics poll of over 4,000 American adults on their media consumption, exposure to stories on transgender people, and attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs about transgender people and transgender rightsRead More
This resource from The Transgender Law Center provides guidance, tools, and tips for reporters and journalists on how to best cover the epidemic of violence facing the transgender community.Read More