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Anti-transgender hate crimes rose dramatically in 2020

The number of anti-trans hate crimes reported in 2020 in the United States was much higher than in the previous year.

By Casey Quinlan - September 01, 2021
Rally for transgender rights

The number of hate crimes committed against transgender people in the United States climbed again in 2020, according to the FBI’s newly released 2020 Hate Crime Statistics report.

In 2020, there were 236 reported incidents involving gender identity-motivated bias versus 198 in 2019, a 19.9% increase. The 2019 figure was 17.8% higher than the 168 reported in 2018.

Thirty-four percent of the incidents classified as hate crimes in the report for 2020 were simple assault, and 26% were aggravated assault.

The definition of what constitutes simple assault or aggravated assault depends on the state, but in general, simple assault is a less serious crime than can involve threats of violence or minor injury to another person, while aggravated assault can involve a weapon and can also land the victim in the hospital.

Three percent of the hate crimes were classified as murder and nonnegligent manslaughter. Six percent of them were vandalism, damage, and destruction.

In 26% of the incidents, the act happened at someone’s home, while 25% of them occurred on a highway, alleyway, street, or sidewalk. These figures match the FBI’s breakdown of locations of all bias-motivated incidents overall. There was a small decrease in the number of people who were targeted based on an offender’s bias regarding sexual orientation in 2020 from 2019; people targeted based on such bias, however, are victims in 20.5% of all single-bias incidents.

This data has its flaws, advocates for better hate crime reporting say. ProPublica reported in June that many incidents are left out of FBI reporting due to such factors as lack of training of law enforcement on what constitutes a hate crime; misclassification of incidents in local agency reporting; and reluctance by victims to report what has happened.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which Congress passed in May in reaction to increasing numbers of hate crimes against Asian Americans, mandates improvement in the collection of data on all hate crimes.

The number of transgender people killed this year, regardless of whether or not they were targeted specifically for being transgender, concerns LGBTQ advocates. At least 35 transgender or gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the United States so far in 2021, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In 2020, there were at least 44 such violent deaths, the highest number the organization had seen since it began tracking them in 2013.

Transgender children and their families face an increasingly hostile political environment in states where GOP lawmakers and governors have enacted bills targeting transgender youth.

In the past few years, Republicans have increased their attacks on transgender equality. From the first few weeks of the Trump administration to its very last days, the administration rolled back Obama-era protections for LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people.

In 2020, Idaho enacted a law that prohibited transgender kids from playing on the sports team of their gender, but it was blocked by a federal judge later that year. It has not gone into effect this year. In the fall of 2020, the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, and its political action committee announced that they were starting a $4 million campaign focused on reaching voters in swing states through “exposing the radicalism” of Democrats on issues of transgender equality.

This year, Republican state lawmakers have carried on these attacks on transgender equality by introducing and passing more transgender sports bans, along with other bills targeting trans people. Eight states have passed sports ban laws in 2021.

Arkansas’ Legislature overrode the veto of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to enact a law that stops transgender youth from accessing hormone treatments and puberty blockers. A new law enacted in Tennessee stops transgender students from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender; at least one transgender student has already been harassed in a bathroom since it took effect.

The Human Rights Campaign said that the number of anti-trans bills introduced by lawmakers in 2021 is the highest it has ever seen.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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