Oct. 29 marked a momentous anniversary for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community and those empathetic to their plight. The fifth anniversary of the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2009 (HCPA) inspired celebration and renewed hopes for increased tolerance toward the transgender population.
“In 2013, twelve transgender women were victims of deadly hate crimes,” said Kylar Broadus, Transgender Civil Right Project Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. The US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, outlines acts that qualify as hate crimes, and the proper proceedings to prosecute the accused. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 provides funding and technical assistance to aid jurisdictions in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. The act also creates a new federal law which will criminalize the intentional causing of bodily injury when:
“(1) The crime was committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin of any person or (2) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person and the crime affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred within federal special maritime and territorial jurisdiction.” justice.gov.
“Being a trans woman I hear hateful words every single day. Tragically, hate speech can then turn to crimes of violence, and then murder. This is particularly true for trans women of color such as myself. We must come together as a community and get active to deal with this issue. That’s why I wanted to be involved in #StopTransMurders,” said Laya Monarez, a bisexual Latina transgender artist based in the nation’s capital.
Individuals who identify as transgender have accrued the highest numbers of hate crime related deaths in the LGBTQ community. In response, the National LGBTQ Task Force has initiated their public education campaign, StopTransMurders. The purpose of the campaign–complimented with film screenings, conferences and action days–is to raise awareness of the ongoing acts of hate. Monarez has displayed several public art pieces to serve as a permanent reminder that the transgender community is more complex than a gender preference. The LGBTQ Task Force hopes that installments like Monarez’s will start a social conversation about human worth and rights.
To learn more and take action visit StopTransMurders.