At least 33 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the U.S. since last November, according to new data from the country’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization.
The report, which the Human Rights Campaign released Monday, highlights the “epidemic of violence” facing trans and gender-nonconforming people, particularly young Black trans women.
The number of people killed is likely an “undercount,” the report notes, since data on violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people is very often “incomplete or unreliable.” Some percentage of deaths go unreported, and victims aren’t always identified as trans in police reports.
“The epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people is a national embarrassment,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote in a statement. “Each of these lives taken is a tragedy ― the result of a society that demeans and devalues anyone who dares challenge the gender binary.”
Earlier on Monday, the 24th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, President Joe Biden issued a statement to mark the occasion, calling the level of violence against trans people “unacceptable.”
“Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance we are reminded that there is more to do to meet that promise, as we grieve the 26 transgender Americans whose lives were taken this year,” Biden said. “While each one of these deaths is a tragedy ― the true toll of those victimized is likely even higher, with the majority of those targeted being women of color.”
The majority of victims this year were Black transgender people, with Black trans women accounting for 62% percent of all victims of fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people.
The HRC report honors each of the 33 victims by telling their stories.
Banko Brown, a 24-year-old Black trans man, is remembered as a “brilliant” community organizing intern who “made friends easily and connected deeply with others.” An armed security guard at a Walgreens in San Francisco fatally shot Brown in April.
Koko Da Doll was “one of Atlanta’s finest and most loving transgender women,” according to the organizers of her GoFundMe funeral campaign. The 35-year-old rapper, also known by the name Rasheeda Williams, was shot and killed at an Atlanta shopping mall this spring.
The HRC report found that gun violence is a major factor in the deaths of trans and gender-nonconforming people.
More than 200 trans people have been killed with a gun since 2013, and three-quarters of those victims were transgender women of color under the age of 35, according to HRC.
The report notes that most of the fatal violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people has occurred in the past three years, a period of escalating hostility toward LGBTQ+ communities from conservative politicians and public figures in particular. HRC called for better legal protections, especially non-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ people as they seek employment, housing, education and other necessities.
“As we once more honor our dead, we remember their hopes and dreams, and grieve the futures that were stolen from them,” Robinson said in her statement. “We must imagine a better future for transgender and gender-nonconforming people — one where they are not just surviving, but truly living as free and equal members of our society.”
This summer, HRC declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans amid a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and anti-trans rhetoric in the media and growing violence against LGBTQ+ people. In 2023, state lawmakers introduced more than 500 bills targeting education about LGBTQ+ people, limiting transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming health care, and policing their ability to participate in sports or use public restrooms.