Never in its 22-year history has it been this dire, this dangerous, to be LGBT, says the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs in its latest report. On Monday, Jan. 22, the group released its annual national research report, detailing 52 cases in 2017 in which members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected communities were targeted and killed for who they were.
The record number of LGBT hate violence homicides—the equivalent of one homicide of an LGBT individual for every week of last year—represents an 86 percent increase from 2016, according to the report. “A Crisis of Hate: Report on LGBTQ Hate Violence Homicides in 2017” squarely places the blame for the spike on what Anti-Violence Project executive director Beverly Tillery called “the escalation of violence” across America.
“This report is a wake-up call for all of us,” said Tillery in a statement. “Our communities live in an increasingly hostile and dangerous climate, after a year of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies coming from the White House, Federal government agencies, state and local sources and in our communities across the country.”
The NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a national coalition of local programs and affiliate organizations dedicated to creating systemic and social change.
Among the findings:
Transgender women and queer, bi, or gay cisgender men made up the overwhelming number of victims.
Researchers noted a significant increase of reports of homicides of queer, bi, or gay cisgender men, from 4 reports in 2016, to 20 in 2017.
Since 2012, NCAVP records show what the report called “a consistent and steadily rising number of reports of homicides of transgender women of color.”
NCAVP collected information on 27 hate-violence related homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2017, compared to 19 reports for 2016; 22 were of transgender women of color,
Of the total number of homicides in 2017, 71 percent of the victims were people of color:
31 (60 percent) of the victims were Black
4 (8 percent) were Latinx
2 (4 percent) were Asian
1 (2 percent) was Native American
Nearly 60 percent of the total number of homicides in 2017 involved guns, including three people who were shot and killed by police.
Who were the victims who lost their lives because of hate in 2017? The report shows 67 percent of the victims were age 35 and under, and an equal number (32 percent) either knew their attacker or were killed by a stranger or someone who sought them out for sexual companionship.
Violence for these victims comes in many forms, and is often intersectional. Recently, one woman thanked the endangered Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which so far has protected her from deportation, in giving her the strength to come out as a victim of sexual violence. She did so in a video tweet posted by the Human Rights Campaign on Jan. 19.
“’It wasn’t until I had DACA that I felt human enough to walk into a police station and report my abuser.’ – Yuridia, a queer sexual violence survivor, credits DACA for bringing her out of the shadows,” the HRC tweet says. “The stakes are too high. Congress must pass the #DreamActNow.”
More than half of the 52 anti-LGBT homicides were committed in five states, with the majority in Texas (7) followed closely by New York State (6), Georgia (5) as well as Louisiana and Florida, with four each. Two victims were from California: Fresno and San Francisco, and both were cisgender men.
Imer Alvarado was shot multiple times in Fresno last May. He was 34 and active in the drag community.
Anthony “Bubbles” Torres was murdered in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district in September. The 44-year-old was known as an activist and gender nonconforming performer.
Of the 22 transgender women of color named in the report, Mesha Caldwell was a 41-year-old beautician whose body was found along a dirt road in Canton, Miss. in January; the body of Ciara McElveen was discovered in February after being stabbed to death in New Orleans. She was 25. Both women were misgendered in the news media following their deaths.
Savyon Zabar was a 54-year-old cisgender gay man who was well-known on the club scene and considered a leader in New York City’s gay Latinix community. He was found strangled to death inside his Manhattan apartment a little more than a year ago; a man identified as a massage therapist was arrested and charged with his murder.
And there are 47 more stories just like theirs.
Since the report documents violence in 2017, it does not include the two trans murders so far in 2018, one of whom, young Viccky Gutierrez from Honduras, was found murdered in her Los Angeles apartment on Jan. 10. As suspect has been arrested in her case.
The NCAVP report profiles each victim of hate violence homicide, featuring photographs and the stories of these 52 individuals lost to fatal, anti-LGBT crimes.
“NCAVP will continue to say their names and re-commits to doing all we can to prevent hate violence and support survivors,” Tillery added. “We must bring more attention and action to deal with this epidemic of violence and work across all of our diverse communities to protect those most vulnerable and stand up to the hostile forces that have created this unacceptable climate of hate.”
“The time for addressing this crisis of violence,” said Tillery, “is now.”
Read the full report at https://avp.org/Crisisofhate