Story at a glance
- Hate crimes motivated by bias against gender identity increased by 20 percent this year, according to the FBI.
- The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting only accounts for hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies.
- LGBTQ+ advocates warn that the epidemic of violence is much worse than reported.
The FBI reported the highest level of hate crimes in more than a decade this year, revealing alarming trends in the United States. And while the majority of victims were targeted because of their race, ethnicity or ancestry, the third- and fourth-most motivations were sexual orientation and gender identity.
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“Yet another year with alarming levels of bias-motivated crimes underscores just how urgent it is to address this hate crimes epidemic,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Alphonso David in a statement. “This year, we saw a tragic new record of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people in this country, particularly against Black and Brown transgender women. These alarming statistics represent real trauma for individuals and families across this country who have to bear the brunt of these hate crimes.”
Just more than 16 percent of victims reported to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program were targeted because of their sexual orientation, while another 2.7 percent were targeted because of their gender identity, a 20 percent increase from the year before. And while the number of specifically anti-transgender hate crimes reported has increased, that number only accounts for crimes both reported to law enforcement agencies and by those agencies to the FBI.
“The lack of mandatory reporting means that the FBI data, while helpful, paints an incomplete picture of hate crimes against the LGBTQ and other communities,” said the HRC in a statement.
Even without the numbers, the reality paints a dire picture. LGBTQ+ Americans have taken on a disproportionate burden during the coronavirus pandemic, especially LGBTQ+ people of color. Transgender youth in particular are at high risk of both violence and suicide, and a record number of transgender Americans were killed this year.
“As the Biden-Harris administration assumes office, we must recommit ourselves to advocating for mandatory hate crimes reporting across the country, better training for law enforcement officers to recognize bias-motivated crimes, and greater inclusion and equity in our communities,” David said in a statement.
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