The 2012 winter may not have been as cold as this past year, but it was surely chilling when the 112th Congress failed to reauthorize an amended version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These amendments included enhanced protections for immigrant, Native American and tribal, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) survivors of domestic and sexual violence. But with the 113th Congress, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was passed and signed into law on March 7, 2013. Although not all the provisions were adopted into the new law, considerable steps were taken in protecting a population that is so often overlooked: the transgender and gender non-conforming community.
For many, November marks the time of the year to be thankful for everyone and everything we hold near and dear to us. In the trans*gender community and its allies, the end of November signifies more than that. This November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that memorializes those who have been killed because of anti-trans violence.
Anti-trans violence is very real and its numbers are extremely disturbing. In 2012, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported 25 hate-related homicides against the LGBTQ community in the United States. Of that 25, more than half of the victims were trans women of color, which is a shocking 40% increase of violence against trans women since 2011. The transgender community faces particularly high rates of public discrimination as well, including unemployment; extreme poverty; harassment in schools, jobs, and on streets; and higher rates of physical and sexual assault.