We are just over halfway through the year of 2017, and already it has been discovered that more LGBT Americans have been murdered in hate-crime related attacks in this year than the entirety of 2016.
According to data provided by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, as of August of 2017, there have been 33 homicides of LGBT people which were linked to hate-violence. This number far outpaces the totals for 2016 when there were 28 of such hate-inspired LGBT murders.
The data excludes the Pulse Nightclub shooting, a tragedy from 2016 which left 49 LGBT Americans – most Hispanic – dead in a hate-crime shooting spree.
Part of the rise of anti-LGBT hate is focused on trans women. In 2017 so far, 15 trans women of color have been murdered. This is significantly higher than trans women attacks and murders in 2016.
When looking at the “why” of these rising numbers, its easy to see a correlation between growing anti-Trans rhetoric on the right and increased hate crimes. Increased debate over controversial “bathroom bills,” as well as Trump’s recent announcement that Trans recruits would be barred from joining the military, means that the message is clear from conservatives: trans people don’t matter. This growing anti-trans rhetoric only emboldens those who would cause harm to these already vulnerable populations.
Though the rise in numbers is likely due to a rise in open hostility and increased polarization, there is also the possibility that 2017 may seem a more deadly year for LGBT Americans because their deaths are being reported more often and more accurately. Could just as many LGBT victims have been made in 2016, without the hate crime element of their deaths never being identified – or even ignored?
“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, it’s certainly not decreasing, and it’s symptomatic of larger and deeper problems in our society that we still haven’t addressed,” Beverly Tillery, executive director at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, told BuzzFeed News.
As Tillery says, whether it is increased hate or increased reporting, we should all be taking a closer look at this continued problem and seek to break down the hate rhetoric that inspires such deadly attacks.