Later this term, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of bathroom rights for transgender people. The heated national debate, ostensibly over restroom access, reflects the extreme prejudice and hostility that transgender people face every day in America. And now the 2016 presidential election has served to compound the anxiety of the LGBTQ community. Several LGBTQ suicide hotlines have reported that since the Republican victory, the number of calls has risen dramatically from normal call traffic.
Statistics from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) offer a painful picture and validation of the community’s fears: hate-related homicides against LGBTQ and HIV-affected people increased 20 percent from 2014 to 2015; 62 percent of the victims were people of color and 67 percent were transgender and gender non-conforming people. By early October 2016, 20 transgender murders had been recorded, including those of 16 trans women, almost all persons of color. And let us not forget the horrific massacre in June at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, whose advertisements featured trans women, a daunting example of the ingrained and brutal hatred that exists for the LGBTQ community.
No one is more at risk than a trans woman of color, even here in New York. A female transgender inmate who was housed in a male jail on Rikers Island is now suing the City, saying that guards stood by and did nothing while she was bullied, punched and beaten by fellow prisoners over her gender identity and sexual orientation.