National Tally on 2012 Anti-LGBTQ Violence Released

by David Perry

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday June 16, 2013

In an audio press conference held June 4, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the U.S. in 2012, the latest statistics of violence aimed at the LGBTQ/HIV community in the United States. Representatives from the NCAVP spoke from locations across the country on the data, most recent trends and recommendations on reducing violence and supporting survivors as presented in this annual report.

"Fifteen local anti-violence organizations reporting from 16 different states submitted data for this 2012 hate-violence report," said moderator and NCAVP Coordinator Chai Jindasurat. "NCAVP continues to capture as much individual data as possible in relation to hate-violence victims, survivors, and offenders. Person-level data allows us to analyze trends in hate-violence in 2012."

The 117-page report, culled from 15 local anti-violence organizations reporting from 16 different states, submitted data for this 2012 hate-violence report, notes several decreases in reported anti-LGBTQ/HIV-related incidents from 2011 to 2012: Hate violence decreased by 4% (2,092 in 2011; 2,016 in 2012), and anti-LGBTQ and HIV-affected homicides decreased from 30 in 2011 to 25 in 2012, a 16.7% decrease. About 30 percent of total hate violence survivors and victims identified as men, a considerable decrease from 50 percent in 2011, but almost half of survivors and victims of hate-related violence (45.3 percent) identified as gay and 206 percent of survivors and victims identified as lesbian. The most common type of violence reported to NCAVP in 2012 was discrimination (16.5 percent), which represents a decrease from 2011 (23 percent).

Transgenders Face Greatest Risk

While the overall decreases in anti-LGBTQ/HIV violence sends a positive message, they mask grimmer realities. The homicide rate for 2012 is the fourth highest since NCAVP began reporting, and severe violence against people of color, transgender, gender non-conforming and HIV-affected people remains alarmingly high. The report finds that 73 percent of all homicide victims in 2012 were people of color, yet LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color only represented 53 percent of total survivors and victims. The overwhelming majority of homicide victims were African American (54 percent), followed distantly by Latinos (16 percent), Whites (12 percent), and Native American (3.85 percent). More than half (62 percent) of victims were women, many of whom identified as transgender women.

This particular datum continues a three-year trend in which transgender women, LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color, and transgender people of color experienced a greater risk of homicide than other LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. Comparing this number to other LGBTQ sectors, 35 percent of homicide victims were gay men, and gay people represented 47 percent of victims, which mirrors the overall total of gay survivors and victims reported to NCAVP (45 percent). Specifically, transgender individuals by far bear the brunt of violence leading to death, and the report finds that 54 percent of total violence victims were transgender women, yet transgender survivors and victims only represent nearly 11 percent of total reports to NCAVP.

More over, transgender people experienced higher levels of victimization from the very law enforcement agencies assigned to protect the public. The report finds that transgender individuals are 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence as compared to cisgender (those whose physical and perceived genders match) people, and almost two-and-a-half times as likely to experience physical violence by the police. Transgender people of color were 2.59 times as likely to experience police violence compared to white cisgender survivors and victims, 2.37 times as likely to experience discrimination.

Transgender women were nearly three times as likely to experience police violence as compared to survivors and victims who were not transgender women, 2.71 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police as compared to survivors and victims who were not transgender women, and 2.14 times as likely to experience discrimination as compared to survivors and victims who were not transgender women.

Violence Goes Unreported?

Lisa Gilmore, speaking for the Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project in Chicago, highlighted a more sinister trend: the numbers the report cites only reflect reported violence, and those incidents officially labeled as anti-LGBTQ/HIV motivated.

"We strongly believe that incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence are under-reported throughout the United States," she said, citing the high-profile Chicago homicides of transwomen Paige Clay, who suffered gunshots to the head, and Tiffany Gooden, who suffered multiple stabbing and incise wounds. Because no suspects have been questioned and no motives established in either death, neither is listed as hate-related, despite evidence of overkill levels and execution-style violence.

"Another factor that tends to lead to under-reporting anti-LGBTQ violence is clear," Gilmore continued. "LGBTQ people across the country express fear regarding seeking law enforcement support when experiencing anti-LGBTQ/HIV harassment or violence. Such incidents often escalate into even more disturbing harassment and violence. The invisibility of anti-LGBTQ/HIV victimization must be addressed and remedied in order to craft meaningful response and prevention efforts in our communities."

Bleakly, the NCAVP findings show only 56 percent of survivors reported their incidents to the police in 2012, which nevertheless represents a slight increase from 2011 (52 percent). However, of survivors and victims who filed incidents with law enforcement, 48 percent reported incidents of police misconduct to NCAVP, a sizeable increase from 2011 (32 percent). While total number of survivors reporting to the police remains small, NCAVP found that this number is growing incrementally over the years, 45 percent in 2010, 52 percent in 2011 and 57 percent in 2012. Discouragingly, of those who interacted with law enforcement, 27 percent reported that the police attitudes were hostile, an increase from 2011 (18 percent).

But Ejeris Dixon, speaking for the New York Anti-Violence Project, pointed out some notable successes with regard to how law enforcement reacts to LGBTQ/HIV-related crime.

"We saw some new strategies in 2012 in addressing police violence locally and nationally," she said. "We've seen an increase in data and reporting on police violence from NCAVP members. We've seen increased national collaborations of local groups working on police violence to leverage their victories across geography. There are multiple organizations working to address profiling based on condom possession. If passed, it would be the first piece of legislation nationwide that would prevent racial profiling in addition to profiling based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, and housing status.

"And nationwide, we are also watching new collaboration between racial justice organizations, organizations that work against racial profiling, and LGBTQ movements into building conclusive, collaborative, and powerful strategies to address this violence on local, state, and national level," she added.

Founded in 1995, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is the only national coalition dedicated to reducing violence and its impacts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities in the United States. NCAVP currently brings together anti-violence programs in cities and regions across the United States and in Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto, Ontario, and can be 24 hours a day at 212-714-1141.

David Perry is a freelance travel and news journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.