Is 13 out of 319 million people killed a national "crisis"? Well The Washington Post and TIME would like you to think so. In the Post Aug. 14, reporter Michael E. Miller cited a bogus study from LGBT advocacy group, the National Coalition for Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), to claim violence against transgenders was on the rise.
The study claimed 12 people were killed in hate crimes in 2014 and 13 had been killed so far in 2015.TIME cited the same study Aug.17, calling the murder rate “historic,” adding two more people killed since the study was published, to make that number 15.
The Post’s Miller wrote Friday, “According to transgender advocacy groups, at least 13 trans women have been killed so far this year.” He hyped, “That makes this year even deadlier for trans women than 2014, which was already the highest on record.”
Even with the media hoopla over Caitlyn Jenner, violence against transgender people persists, according to the paper. “[A] higher profile for transgender Americans hasn’t translated into greater protection. In fact, just the opposite,” Miller wrote.
“We are at a crisis at this point,” transgender advocate Rassi Freedman-Gurspan (“National Center for Transgender Equality”) told the Post.
Laya Monarez from the Human Rights Campaign expressed a similar statement to TIME: “[t]he levels of violence and harassment transgender people face--particularly transgender women and transgender women of color- constitute a national crisis,” she said. [emphasis added]
From the lurid language, one might think that transgender people were being attacked for simply walking down the street. However, the truth is more nuanced than that. The media and the study in question left out serious contextual details.
Out of the 12 deaths in 2014, the NCVAP report only mentioned the names of 11 victims, and 73% of these people turned out to be sex workers, i.e. prostitutes, according to local news and police reports. The remaining few were killed in the wee hours of the morning as well but reports do not confirm whether they were also sex workers or not.
Of course, this one inconvenient detail isn’t mentioned at all -- in the study, by the Post, or by TIME.
The Post also claimed 13 transgender people were killed in hate crimes in 2015 so far while TIME’s newer number claims 15. They didn’t list names. However, The Advocate does list 14 people killed this year.
Among that list were three cases of alleged sex workers killed, another five persons allegedly killed by ex-boyfriends and in other domestic violence incidents; and another six people where cause and motive has not been reported.
The Post article doesn’t mention the motives behind these crimes either. The very nature of a “hate crime” is being killed for the person you are. Not because of domestic disputes or because you work in a criminal, highly violent business.
Even more ironic, is that the study undermines its message that violence against transgenders is somehow worse than violence against any other people group. For instance, their 2014 data says that “cisgender women survivors” of violence had higher rates of being sexually assaulted than transgender women did.
In case you missed out on all the strange terminology that runs rampant in the “LGBTQUIA &HIV+” community (an actual term in the study, I did NOT make up), “cisgender woman” means a woman who is both biologically female and identifies as female.
This study is reminiscent of one done by New America Foundation which used unsubstantiated and outright false examples to pad its numbers. The media ate this study up without investigating its legitimacy as well.
Of course, every life matters, and murdering any human being is a terrible crime. Murder is murder, and that doesn’t matter whether someone is a prostitute or not. But would the Post’s headline have been nearly as sensational, had it read, “73% of transgender people killed last year were sex workers?”
Taking a step back from the media’s hype, it’s worth noting that 15 out of 319 million people is a mere 0.0000047 percent of the population – hardly a “national crisis.”
The Post article comes at a time when the media is fascinated with making transgendered people their new poster children for victimhood. USA Today devoted an article about suicide rates among transgender people, and The Guardian hyped, “Transgender Murders Continue,” Aug. 15.