Even as we experience increased transgender visibility through a range of inspiring national media stories, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women and transgender women of color – constitute a national crisis.
- At the federal level, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act covers crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. When President Obama signed it into law in 2009, it was the first federal law to explicitly protect LGBT people.
- In 2001, the Texas Legislature passed the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act. The act allows trial courts to impose stiffer penalties for crimes committed due to bias against the victims’ real or perceived race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual preference, age, or national origin. There are no similar protections available for victims of crimes caused because of bias against the victim’s gender identity or expression. Gender identity or expression should be added to the current list of attributes because, like the currently listed attributes, it is a universal trait that has historically been the basis for widespread and systemic discrimination and violence in our culture.
- Safety and privacy in restrooms is important for all of us. That’s why we already have laws in place that make it illegal to harm or harass people, or invade their privacy. Anyone who does that can and should be arrested and prosecuted. Police use these laws to prevent assault, keep people safe, and hold offenders accountable. Transgender people are part of our workplaces and our neighborhoods, and they need to be able to use the restroom just like everyone else. We can protect people from discrimination and continue to hold offenders accountable. That way everyone can have a fair opportunity to earn a living, be safe, meet their responsibilities, and build a better life.
- Transgender persons face incredible levels of scrutiny from their federal and local governments, their employers and other institutions, especially if their legal documentation still reflects their former gender. Texas law allows people assigned a gender at birth that does not reflect their true gender to legally change their recognized gender. However, the process for doing so is not clearly laid out in statute. This has resulted in a patchwork of different processes and precedents across the state. In order to ensure that all Texans can be assured fair treatment by the courts, Texas should provide a standard process for modification or reissuance of identity documents.
- According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color make up the majority (50.2%) of intimate partner violence survivors. Additionally, their 2013 report found that LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color were more likely to report experiencing physical violence, discrimination, threats or intimidation, and harassment as a result of intimate partner violence. LGBTQ and HIV-affected people of color were also more likely to experience intimate partner violence incidents in public spaces. Equality Texas supports early intervention and prevention programs to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence in LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities.
Equality Texas is committed to preventing and reducing violence directed at, or within, the LGBT community.