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The homicide rate for trans people has nearly doubled, with gun killings fueling increase: Advocates

Emily Fennick / EyeEm/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The homicide rate for transgender people nearly doubled between 2017 and 2021, driven primarily by killings with firearms, according to a leading anti-gun violence group.

Known transgender killings increased 93% in that four-year period -- from 29 in 2017 to 56 in 2021 -- and 73% of those people were killed with a firearm, according to an Everytown for Gun Safety report released Tuesday analyzing the effects of gun violence on LGBTQ communities.

The Everytown report found that Black transgender people, especially transgender women, were killed at a particularly disproportionate rate -- echoing previous analysis that the trans community faces higher rates of violence.

According to the report, 73% of tracked homicides between 2017 and 2021 were of Black trans women though they make up only an estimated 13% of the transgender population.

Citing a June brief from the Department of Justice that drew on data from 2017 to 2020, Everytown reported that LGBTQ people was more likely than other groups to be victims of violence.

Gay people were "more than twice as likely to experience violent victimization as straight people," the Everytown report stated. "Transgender people are 2.5 times as likely to be victims of violence as cisgender people. And, bisexual people were seven times as likely to experience violent victimization as straight people."

More broadly, Everytown found, according to an average from a self-reported annual crime victim survey from 2010 to 2021, there are an estimated 25,000-plus hate crimes involving a firearm in the U.S. each year.

"Hate is far more deadly when armed with a gun," the report states.

Everytown's report, in partnership with LGBTQ advocacy groups the Equality Federation and the Human Rights Campaign, acknowledges some limits in the available data. Among other sources, it drew from only known transgender homicides as well as estimates on the LGBTQ community, the annual victim survey and, for its conclusions on LGBTQ youth, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LGBTQ violence does not spare children and young adults, who were also more likely than their non-LGBTQ counterparts to experience violence involving a weapon, the report found: A Human Rights Campaign analysis of public data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System showed 17% of LGBTQ youth -- including 29% of trans youth -- and 30% of questioning youth experienced threats or injury with a weapon while on school property.

LGBTQ people also see higher rates of suicide: 40% of transgender people reported trying to kill themselves, according to the nonprofit-led U.S. Transgender Survey in 2015. That was almost nine times the national average. The Trevor Project's 2022 survey found that LGBTQ youth, between 13 and 24 years old, had also seriously considered suicide -- with one in five attempting.

Ninety percent of all suicide attempts with a gun are fatal, according to statistics from 2007 to 2014 cited by Everytown.

"This data implies that this epidemic of firearm suicide could have a disproportionate impact on transgender and adolescent members of the LGBTQ+ community," the report states.

The report attributes the "greater risk" of suicide to social stigmas, family rejection, bullying, harassment and abuse -- and ties the rates of suicide and homicide to a political climate in which states are focusing on legislation aimed at LGBTQ groups.

The number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups also increased by 43% from 2018 to 2019, according to the advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center.

"This report shows what we have sadly learned to be true: when LGBTQ+ people's rights and existence are up for debate, it creates a culture in which hate-motivated crimes are commonplace," Fran Hutchins, executive director at the Equality Federation, said in a statement. "Easy access to firearms coupled with state lawmakers who are fueling anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and attacks on transgender rights has created an environment that can be deadly for our community."

Everytown's new report renews the group's calls for additional laws regulating gun use, which Republican critics have long said are ineffective or unconstitutional.

From suicides to anti-trans violence, "our community has suffered terribly as a result of our nation's inadequate gun safety laws," the report argues.

The report recommends passing the Disarm Hate Act -- which would bar people from having a gun if they've been convicted or sentenced for a misdemeanor hate crime -- and creating federal offices for domestic terrorism.

The Everytown report said offices focusing on domestic terrorism in various government departments would support a coordinated effort and response to white supremacists, extremist groups and other domestic threats.

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