By Jake Hearn
Reports from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, examined by Buzzfeed, show there have already been more anti-LGBT hate-motivated homicides this year than in all of 2016.
According to BuzzFeed News reporter Nidhi Prakash, not counting the Pulse nightclub terror attack hate crime murders of 49 people, in 2016 there were 28 hate-violence-related homicides of LGBT people. Already this year, there have been 33 anti-LGBT hate violence murders across the country.
"The numbers translate to roughly one hate-violence-related death every 13 days in 2016. So far in 2017, the pace of those deaths is at about one every six days," Buzzfeed reports.
At this rate, these hate murders are on track to double last year's count.
"Fifteen of those who were killed in 2017 were transgender women of color, and at least 12 were cisgender gay men," Buzzfeed adds. "The reports came from all over the US, from Texas to New York to Wisconsin."
One important question is why.
"I think whether it’s an increase in reporting, an increase in violence, or some combination thereof, it should be a wake-up call for us across our communities that hate violence is not going away," Beverly Tillery, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project told Buzzfeed. The NYC AVP coordinates with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and creates the violence report.
Tillery adds that hate violence is "certainly not decreasing, and it’s symptomatic of larger and deeper problems in our society that we still haven’t addressed."
And while this spike in hate murders is alarming, there likely are more that have not been included. Law enforcement officials may not know, or may choose to not report a victim as being transgender, for example, or may not know the motivation for their murder.
"There are a lot more homicides of LGBT people than what they report," Dallas Drake, senior researcher at the Center for Homicide Research, tells Buzzfeed. "They don't report generally from communities that are smaller or where cases are not easily identifiable as LGBT homicides."
Old Dominion University assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice Vanessa Panfil tells Buzzfeed there's a backlash against LGBT people.
That backlash, she says, has been encouraged in part by the Trump administration walking back Obama-era guidances and policies that were LGBT-inclusive, such as supporting trans students' rights and signaling a ban on allowing trans people to serve in the military. As a result, transgender people across the country are relying on courts to decide if they’re allowed to access bathrooms in line with their gender identities — a decision the Supreme Court decided not to weigh in on when it sent a landmark trans rights case back to a lower court earlier this year.
Pulling back from anti-LGBT homicides and looking at all hate crimes, is there a Trump effect, an unleashing of hate into society, as has been documented repeatedly?
Just look at these headlines:
"Anti-LGBT hate crimes in D.C. up 59% in 2016"
"What We Have Unleashed: This year’s string of brutal hate crimes is intrinsically connected to the rise of Trump."
"A Fifth of Hate Crimes Reported Done in Trump's Name, Researchers Say"
"Donald Trump Has Unleashed a New Wave of Bullying in Schools"
"'Trump effect' led to hate crime surge, report finds"
"Q&A: 'There's a virus in our country': The 'Trump effect' and rise of hate groups, explained"
"The Trump Effect: The Impact of The 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation's Schools"
Kathy Flores, an LGBTQ anti-violence program manager for Wisconsin's Diverse & Resilient says, "The message this sends to LGBTQ folks is clear: that we may not be safe anywhere."