Members of Congress formed a new task force to combat violence and discrimination against transgender people on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the first-ever congressional forum dedicated to issues faced by the marginalized population. This comes in the wake of a seeming uptick in violence against transgender people in the US.
Hate crime statistics released by the FBI on Monday, Nov. 16, revealed a shocking three-fold increase in violence and threats against transgender and gender-nonconforming people: from 31 incidents in 2013 to 98 in 2014.
But trans rights activists suggest the real numbers may be much higher. “We assume that this is the minimum of what’s happened,” Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told Quartz.
Kylar Broadus, the founder and executive director of the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), an advocacy group based in Washington, DC, tells Quartz he perceived a sharp rise in the number of trans people murdered in 2015. “There were murders every day in January and February,” Broadus said. “It was just overwhelmingly scary. By March we had more deaths than we had had in all of 2014.”
It’s difficult to collect accurate statistics on hate crimes generally. The FBl relies on police departments to report hate crime data across a broad spectrum of victim demographics, but not all cities comply. Even police departments that do comply can only report the hate crimes that they have on file—and it’s hard to speculate what proportion of victims actually report hate crimes to the police in the first place.
This is the second year that hate crimes against transgender and gender nonconforming people have been reported by the FBI. As the FBI continues to gather data, Warbelow says she hopes that a clearer picture of the issue will emerge. A national database dedicated to tracking violence against trans people was discussed at the congressional forum, according to PBS News Hour.
“We’d certainly love to be able to use that data,” Warbelow said. “We want to look at year-over-year trends.”