2021 Has Been the Deadliest Year for Transgender or Non-Binary People

Transgender violence 2021 BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of thelily.com

Violence against transgender and non-binary people has been steadily increasing over the past several years. Although many of the cases go unreported or unrecorded as hate crimes, the numbers released by the Human Rights Campaign last Thursday are alarming.

According to HRC, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States, 2021 recorded 47 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people, the highest number of any year since the organization began tracking violence in 2013.

Through the report “An Epidemic of Violence: Fatal Violence Against Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People in the United States in 2021,” HRC asserts that rhetoric and stigma directed by anti-equality political leaders and public figures against trans and non-binary people “have led to an unprecedented level of horrific violence against our trans community.”

Of the 46 victims, 29 were black, and eight were Latina, the report found. Since January 2013, HRC has documented more than 250 transgender and gender-nonconforming people victims of deadly violence. Two-thirds of these known victims have been black women, and nearly 60% of the known deaths have involved a firearm. 

This deadly violence affects trans and gender non-conforming people across the country. HRC and its advocates have tracked cases of deadly violence since 2013 in 113 cities and towns in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

On Saturday, President Biden issued a statement marking the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and lamenting the “horrific acts of violence.”

“Each of these lives was precious. Each of them deserved freedom, justice, and joy,” Biden said. “…Transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But no person should have to be brave just to live in safety and dignity. Today, we remember. Tomorrow – and every day – we must continue to act.”

As CBS News reported, the HRC’s figures come on the heels of a surge in legislation aimed at limiting access to sports and health care for transgender children.

Between early 2020 and April of this year, more than 75 bills specifically targeting transgender youth were introduced. Several more have since been proposed.

“These bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation, they are un-American, and they endanger the safety and well-being of our children,” Biden said.

For her part, transgender writer and activist Raquel Willis called the news demoralizing and expected given the lack of investment in trans communities of color in recent years.

“I think that there have been consistent failures at addressing transgender people and the system of oppression that we’re constantly facing,” Willis told 19th News. “Overwhelmingly, the leadership of our largest LGBTQ pride organizations are not Black, and Brown trans women, or people in particular, and overwhelmingly they are not addressing our needs.”