The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a report honoring the at least 46 transgender and gender non-conforming people killed so far this year, shining a light on the epidemic of violence.
With 46 known deaths since January 1, HRC has officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people than any year since the organization began tracking this kind of violence in 2013.
Previously, the highest known number of fatal deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people was in 2020, when Human Rights Campaign reported 44 people were violently killed throughout the calendar year.
This latest report’s release comes several days ahead of today’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, a moment to remember the transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been lost to fatal violence over the course of the year.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by human rights advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.
The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Hester’s death, and has become an important annual tradition.
“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” said Smith. “I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley acknowledged 46 transgender and gender-nonconforming people who have been murdered this year during a House speech in recognition of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
Advocates say widespread discrimination persists against individuals who do not fit into the perspectives of others, who refuse to mind their own business by respecting privacy, personal preferences and identity issues.
September 24, 2021, Lambda Legal announced it reached a settlement with St. Joseph’s Healthcare System of Paterson, on behalf of Jionni Conforti, a transgender man denied treatment for his gender dysphoria by the New Jersey hospital in 2015.
Just this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) terminated an outrageous Trump administration policy that misused the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) in order to allow states to categorically permit federally-funded child welfare agencies to turn away well-qualified prospective parents based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lambda Legal and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) opposed HHS’s effort to impose an indefinite hold on a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, a married same-sex couple who were denied the ability to apply to provide a home to an unaccompanied refugee child by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which continues to dominate the federally-funded program for these children in the part of Texas where Fatma and Bryn live.
Of those 46 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the U.S., 29 were Black and eight were Latinx.
Since January 2013, HRC has documented more than 250 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were victims of fatal violence. Two-thirds of these known victims have been Black women and nearly 60% of known fatalities have involved a firearm.
This fatal violence affects trans and gender non-conforming people nationwide, with HRC and advocates tracking cases of fatal violence since 2013 across 113 cities and towns in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
These disturbing numbers likely underreport deadly violence targeting transgender and gender non-confirming people, who may not be properly identified as transgender or gender non-conforming by police, media or other sources.
The 46 known transgender and gender non-conforming people killed so far in 2021 are: Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright and Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, and Jenny De Leon.
HRC also tracks additional concerning deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
Many factors lead to this violence. Anti-transgender stigma can lead to the denial of opportunities in society, such as employment discrimination and exclusion from health care, as well as to increased risk factors such as poverty and homelessness.
The combination of these factors, which are often exacerbated by racism and sexism, can lead to an increased risk of fatal violence. Learn more in HRC’s newly updated report, “Dismantling a Culture of Bias: Understanding Anti-Transgender Violence and Ending the Crisis.”
Although there are some existing legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people — such as the Violence Against Women Act, the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia as well as various state and local laws — we still lack explicit federal protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people and pervasive stigma makes lived equality far out of reach even in LGBTQ+ inclusive regions.
The report lays out the realities that conspire to put transgender people at risk, as well as federal and state actions that would move us closer to ending violence against trans and gender non-conforming people.
This past week, HRC has commemorated Transgender Awareness Week, an annual event that is dedicated to illuminating both the progress and unfinished work in the fight for transgender and non-binary equality.
To mark the week this year, HRC has held a book reading of “Calvin” by Vanessa and J.R. Ford and hosted a follow-on panel discussion with Black and Brown parents of transgender youth.