LGBT Perspectives editor
There is sad news out of the United States: The number of murders of transgender and gender non-conforming people in that country is at a record high this year, 22 so far. Last year, the number was 12.
And all the publicity surrounding people like Caitlyn Jenner may be a factor, The Guardian is reporting:
The violence could be tied to growing attention toward transgender people such as the recent coming out of Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, said Kevin Nadal, head of the Center for LGBTQ Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
“In general if you look at history a lot of times, whenever there are positive moves for historically marginalised groups there tends to be a backlash,” he said.
Community activists and organizers agree.
Alok Vaid-Menon, an organizer with the Audre Lorde Project, told the Guardian that the presence of transgender and gender nonconforming people in the media has lead to greater outrage over their existence in society at large, and has also increased the pressure for others to come out as trans when it may not be safe for them to do so.
“What feels uniquely dangerous about this moment is the moral hierarchy that’s being established where trans and gender non-conforming people have to be ‘visible’ in order to be legitimate,” Vaid-Menon said of the pressure to come out as transgender for those most at risk. “Even though increased visibility for the most vulnerable among us results in incredible violence.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if the national attention around the anti-HERO vote in Houston this past week — where extremists conducted a bathroom scare campaign targeting trans people — leads to more violence against transgender people across the United States.
Which would make some right-wing religious extremists in Houston and that country very happy. Undoubtedly, they would attribute the rise in violence against trans people to “God’s wrath.” But, in fact, it has nothing to do with God at all, and everything to do with hate and evil that lies inside these fundamentalists, who seek to make everyone conform to their narrow, exclusionary and superstitious vision of how life should be lived.
It’s time for the United States to limit the ability of religious extremists to foment hate and violence against transgender and LGB people. Religious extremists are perverting the right to freedom of speech. They must be held accountable.