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Anti-transgender hate crimes soared 20 percent in 2019

Less than 15 percent of law enforcement departments nationwide report hate crime data to the FBI, stymying efforts to get an accurate picture of the crisis.
Black Women Hold \"Say Her Name\" March in Richmond, VA
Protesters hold a sign with the face of Nina Pop at the Lee statue during a "Black Women Matter" march on July 3, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Pop, a black trans woman was found dead with multiple stab wounds in her apartment in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3.Eze Amos / Getty Images

Bias attacks based on gender identity rose significantly in 2019, according to a new FBI report on hate crimes.

Released this week, the annual Uniform Crime Report indicates that, last year, 227 hate-crime incidents were motivated by gender-identity bias. That’s up 20 percent from 2018, when 189 such incidents were reported.

Drilling into the data, there were 175 victims of anti-transgender bias and 52 victims of anti-gender-nonconforming bias reported last year, compared to 160 victims of anti-trans bias and 29 victims of anti-gender-nonconforming bias the year prior.

Civil rights advocates have long criticized the report for failing to represent the full number of hate crimes in the United States, since reporting isn’t mandatory. Last year, only 2,172 law enforcement agencies out of about 15,000, or less than 15 percent, reported hate crime data, the FBI said.

Since 2018, the number of agencies submitting hate crime statistics actually decreased by 451.

More than 70 cities with populations over 100,000 either failed to report data or affirmatively reported zero hate crimes. The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ civil rights group, said cities of that size not having a single hate crime all year “is clearly not credible.”

“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,” the organization said in a statement.

In 2019, at least 27 transgender or gender-nonconforming persons died by violence, according to the group. Again, the real number is likely higher, as not all deaths are accurately reported, nor are all victims accurately identified.

In 2020, that figure has risen to 36, the most since the group began tracking these deaths in 2013, with more than a month left in the year.

“This year, we saw a tragic new record of fatal violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people in this country, particularly against Black and Brown transgender women,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “These alarming statistics represent real trauma for individuals and families across this country who have to bear the brunt of these hate crimes.”

In October, then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden called anti-transgender violence an “epidemic that needs national leadership.”

In a statement released prior to the election, Biden vowed to “put forward comprehensive solutions to help empower the transgender and gender-nonconforming community and prioritize the prosecution of anti-transgender violence.”

The FBI's annual report defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person's race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, among other categories.

In all, the bureau received 7,314 reports of hate crimes in 2019, up from 7,120 in 2018 and approaching the record 7,783 in 2008.

Reported attacks based on sexual orientation dipped slightly, from 1,445 in 2018 to 1,429 in 2019. They represented 16.8 percent of all hate crimes, the third largest category after race and religion.

Crimes involving religion-based bias rose, with attacks targeting Jewish people and institutions increasing 14 percent and those targeting Muslims increasing 16 percent. For the fourth year in a row, there was also a significant uptick in hate crimes targeting the Latino community, increasing 9 percent from last year.

Hate crimes against Black Americans dropped slightly, from 1,943 to 1,930.

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