A just-released report today finds the majority of homicide victims of hate violence in 2012 were people of color, over half were transgender women, and one-third were gay men
Today the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released our annual Report on Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2012. Last year saw unprecedented progress for LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities in the United States. In that same year, 25 people were killed due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. And those are the confirmed and reported homicides that NCAVP knew about – there could very well be more.
The overwhelming majority of hate violence homicide victims were people of color, over half were transgender women, and roughly a third were gay men. When compared with total reports of hate violence in 2012 and population estimates, this means that people of color and transgender women are disproportionately impacted by hate motivated homicides.
NCAVP’s 2012 report shows a slight national decrease (four percent) in overall reports of anti-LGBTQ hate violence and a 17 percent decrease in homicides. These statistics seem to contradict the recent series of high profile hate violence attacks in New York City, including last month’s brutal homicide of Mark Carson. While we won’t have the full picture of violence in 2013, our data to date indicates that what we are seeing in New York City and nationally is not necessarily a sudden wave of anti-LGBTQ hate violence but instead a sudden wave of increased media attention to hate violence. Given the recent media attention to the violence LGBTQ people face, NCAVP’s report provides us with some answers to the questions we all have: what is going on and how to we stop this violence?
We know that oppression is the cause of hate violence and that hate violence has been used as a tool to maintain social domination for centuries. Many marginalized communities experienced a legacy of hate violence. Hate violence created fear and maintained Jim Crow segregation within the American South, a wave of hate violence occurred against Japanese Americans during World War II and sanctioned the creation of Japanese internment policies, hate violence against Muslim Americans spiked after the September 11, 2001 attacks and supported the creation of programs that forced Muslim and Arab men to register with the federal government. Hate violence maintains the glue of societal oppression, sandwiched between legal and institutional discrimination, cultural invisibility and ridicule. Hate violence maintains order between those with power and those without.
We would like to say that the solution to violence is simple and singular. But the truth is that violence is a systematic multifaceted issue and therefore needs a complex response.
To address hate violence we must examine all of the policies that support anti-LGBTQ bias. A critical part of that bias is legal discrimination against LGBTQ communities. The federal government, and more than half of state governments, still legally discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. But all national policies affect us – even when the policies themselves are non LGBTQ-specific. Despite specific advances for LGBTQ people, there are other policies that have harmed our communities. Reductions to our nation’s social services, including public assistance and affordable housing, cuts in aid and support for low-income LGBTQ people, dramatically increase their vulnerability to hate violence.
Harsh, punitive, and hateful immigration policies encouraged the deportation of record numbers of undocumented immigrants, including LGBTQ people. Arizona’s SB 1070 law, for example, is a form of institutional hate violence designed to create fear and intimidation within immigrant communities. 2012 was a political environment so hostile toward reproductive justice and women’s rights that it became known as the “war on women.” Many times hate motivated sexual assault, such as “corrective rape,” is used to control and dominate those who are less powerful and more feminine.
All of these policies reduced the stability and safety of marginalized communities within the United States – including LGBTQ communities. Because LGBTQ people are poor, because we are immigrants, because we are people of color, and because we are women, these anti-poverty, anti-people of color, anti-immigrant, anti-women policies contributed to the hostile environment, including homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic violence, that LGBTQ people already live with. NCAVP is focused on changing not just the laws that specifically target LGBTQ people and create inequality, but also those that impact the marginalized, intersecting identities that people hold. In 2013, NCAVP successfully advocated for an explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive Violence Against Women Act, with the first federal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This strategy of integrating LGBTQ issues into “mainstream” laws is one that can, and should, be used for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) and anti-poverty and anti-homelessness policies.
NCAVP is also working hard to prevent institutional abuse and re-victimization. Far too many LGBTQ people, especially transgender people of color, experience violence at the hands of the police. In 2012 NCAVP found that of the survivors and victims who interacted with the police, 48 percent of overall survivors and victims reported incidents of police misconduct to NCAVP. It is dangerous that those charged with protecting people from violence are also perpetrators of violence and NCAVP has been a part of a national LGBTQ movement against police violence that became more vocal and powerful in 2012. NCAVP members in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City advanced local anti-police violence campaigns and made concrete wins to reduce and prevent police violence in their communities.
We must build on our successes in 2012 to continue to reduce, and end, this violence. This year, we are calling for a multi-strategy approach to end hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. We are calling on policymakers and funders to support awareness and prevention campaigns, like the transgender visibility campaign in Washington, D.C. We also recognize the direct links between anti-LGBTQ violence and racial and economic justice. That’s why NCAVP is promoting an anti-homelessness and anti-poverty platform as a critical anti-violence strategy, and we are calling on policymakers and funders to recognize the disproportionate impact of deadly violence against LGBTQ people of color. Our strategies must also be fully informed by those directly impacted by violence, because they are the experts in how to reduce and prevent violence. This means supporting survivor leadership within our movements, and prioritizing the leadership of LGBTQ people of color and transgender people. We must also recognize the inherent limitations and violence from the criminal legal system as the sole option for responding to violence, and continue to support anti-violence campaigns outside of these systems.
Our strategies must match our needs. 23 percent of homicides were connected to engagement in sex work. Marriage equality alone will not help these victims and survivors. Jobs, housing, and access to safe and supportive services are needed. To truly address this violence we need to create multi-issue movements between LGBTQ people and our allies to address hate violence against all marginalized and oppressed communities. We need more political leaders and organizations that are not identified with the LGBTQ community to speak out against anti-LGBTQ hate violence. LGBTQ organizations need to continue to ensure that we collaborate and work with all organizations that address violence and oppression.
We believe in our movements, and we believe we can end this violence. The lives of our community members depend upon it.
Chai Jindasurat is the NCAVP Coordinator and Ejeris Dixon is the Deputy Director in charge of Community Organizing at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP). AVP empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and support survivors through counseling and advocacy.
The New Civil Rights Movement is pleased to announce our partnership with the New York City Anti-Violence Project. The AVP will contribute reports about violence in the community and advocacy efforts to mitigate harm to the LGBTQ and HIV communities.
Image, top, via NCAVP and GLAAD. All other images via NCAVP.
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