REPORT CARD ON HATE.
THE NATIONAL COALITION OF ANTIVIOLENCE PROGRAMS (NCAVP), a network of 25 community-based organizations, recently released a report documenting anti-lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual violence in 1999, and it looks like we've got a long way to go in stemming the tide of anti-queer hate crimes nationwide.
"Transgender violence is up significantly, "says Shawna Virago, domestic violence survivor program director at Community United Against Violence, a member organization of NCAVP. "In San Francisco and New York, far too often the perpetrators were law enforcement officers. The rising tide of police violence against transgender and transsexual people must stop. It is not the job of law enforcement to police gender."
Although hate crimes against transgender people rose in New York and San Francisco, there was a slight decline in anti-LGBT incidents in regions with large and long-established communities. However, smaller and medium-sized cities around the country saw dramatic increases in the level of violence. The report also revealed the national trend in which anti-LGBT murders rose 150 percent in the last two years.
The report documents many specific incidents in detail to demonstrate the widespread suffering people have endured because of anti-GLBT violence. One narrative tells the story of a lesbian immigrant woman who was kidnapped and brutally beaten by her family when they found out she was a lesbian. Although the family attempted to take her back to their home country, police in the United States intervened at the airport before their departure. The woman and her girlfriend have been forced to change their identities and go into hiding to avoid further violence at the hands of family members.
Stories like these honor victims who, unlike Matthew Shepard, didn't generate national headlines. "Any one of us can be a target of hate," says Virago. "Hate violence cannot be limited to any one town or stare."