Anti-Transgender violence on the rise in America

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year to date for transgender Americans. Fourty-six transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the United States according to the Human Rights Campaign. Globally, 375 trans and gender-diverse people have been killed so far this year, according to Trans Respect vs Transphobia, a European research project that annually monitors transgender killings. Violence against the transgender community continues to steadily increase across the country with the reported number of hate crimes against transgender people doubling from 2016 to 2020.

The New Orleans Police Department is among multiple police forces in the nation that are working to create a support system for the transgender community amid the increase in violence.

Officer Reese Harper, a transgender man, is the NOPD’s LGBT department liaison. He said officers in the department reach out to the community in New Orleans to present themselves as queer allies. Harper said his department participates in pride events in the city to let New Orleans’ LGBT community know the department is there to offer support.

Transgender people suffer from high suicide rates stemming from issues like unaffordable mental health care, lack of education regarding their experiences, and a complicated history with law enforcement, according to a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Half of transgender people surveyed report they are uncomfortable seeking police assistance, according to data collected from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality. The study showed that more than one-fifth of transgender people who have interacted with police reported police harassment, and 6% of transgender individuals reported that they experienced bias-motivated assault by officers.

After the Department of Justice launched its investigation into the police mistreatment of LGBT people by several law enforcement agencies around the country including New Orleans, from 2012 to 2016, the awareness of the need for LGBT education and outreach programs within police departments became clear according to the findings of the Department of Justice.

Harper said many are ignorant of the community’s struggle and that education is a large part of the department’s attempt to tackle mistrust from the LGBT community. NOPD hosts a mandatory class called “LGBT Awareness” for its new recruits and in their in-service continuing education program for officers. The mission of this course is to promote fairness and impartiality within the department, Harper said.

“A huge part of what I do at the academy is education and training on treating people fairly,” Harper said. “When you know better, you do better.”

Harper said it is the role of the police, first responders, and city government to lead by example and make education and inclusion a top priority. He said that change must start with those in positions of power.

“It is important for those in power to listen to and elevate the voices of the transgender community to truly protect citizens from all harm,” Harper said.

Biases transgender people deal with in America include pronoun misuse, misgendering, and difficulty accessing legal and medical documentation with the correct name and gender. Between 2016 and 2020 the number of reported hate crimes on the bias of gender identity across the United States went from 126 reported crimes to 266 according to data taken from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer.

According to the Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed academic journal, the struggle of transgender Americans can degrade their self worth and self esteem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics September 2018 study showed that transgender female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide at 50%, while nonbinary and transgender male to female adolescents had an attempted suicide rate of 41% and 30% respectively. These numbers are higher compared to cisgender female adolescents rate of 18% and that of cisgender male adolescents at 10% regarding suicide attempts.

The general population also plays a large role in the fight for transgender protect and equality. Music industry junior Teddy Tietze, a transmasculine nonbinary student, said he dreams of a world where everyone respects each other regardless of gender identity or sexuality.

“I feel like we’re all just people, and the labels we fit into and find solidarity with shouldn’t change anything about anyone’s perception of you,” Tietze said.

Tietze asked his community to pay attention to the way people act toward friends who are a part of the LGBT community. He encouraged everyone to be an ally against perpetrators.

“Call them out,” Tietze said. “Don’t always make it the responsibility of your friend.”