Murders of trans, gay youth documented in new report
Unprecedented coalition of human and civil rights organizations join forces to fight epidemic
by Taneika Taylor
‘When it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent.’
— Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past 10 years, more than 50 people aged 30 and under were violently murdered by assailants who targeted them because they did not fit stereotypes for masculinity or femininity. The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) released the groundbreaking human rights report “50 Under 30: Masculinity and the War on America’s Youth” documenting this tide of murderous violence and the key demographics of its victims and their assailants.
The report reveals a unique vulnerability at the intersection of age, race, and gender non-conformity that makes a fatal assault exponentially more likely.
“While many youth who don’t fit gender stereotypes for masculinity or femininity face harassment or bullying, when it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent,” said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC executive director. “These victims tended to share the same characteristics: they were mostly Black or Latina, were biologically male and presenting with some degree of femininity, and were killed by other young males in attacks of extraordinary and often multiple acts of violence.”
The report has spurred a new coalition of civil and human rights organizations including Amnesty International (U.S.A.), Global Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Organization for Women, International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Safe Schools Coalition, National Education Association’s Health Information Network and the U.S. Human Rights Network. These organizations are joining together in educating the public and calling upon policy-makers and law enforcement officials to address the underlying cause of gender-based violence.
“Aggression and violence have become acceptable ways of policing gender performance and punishing the transgression of gender boundaries in American culture,” said Dr. Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and an author who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity. “These deaths were often the result of young men using lethal violence to enforce standards of masculinity on other young males who didn’t meet cultural expectations of masculinity — especially when they were transgender or gay.”
In recognition of International Human Rights Day, the report was distributed on Dec. 10 to more than 100 governmental and non-governmental agencies focused on human and civil rights. A copy was also formally presented to the Organization for American State’s Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of which the United States is a member. The IACHR investigates human rights abuses in North and South America.
Murders that were classified as hate crimes were solved nearly one-and-a-half times more often than those that were not; yet 72 percent of the cases in the report were not so classified, although most suffered extremely violent deaths combining stabbing, beating, strangling and shooting. Fifty-four percent of the deaths remain unsolved, as compared with 31 percent for all homicides nationally.
The annual FBI’s Hate Crimes Statistics report documents assaults motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. While it does not track murders based on victim’s gender identity or expression, if it did, the murders in this report would outweigh every other category except race.
“We must stand together and do whatever it takes to stop this kind of hate on our children,” said Queen Washington, the mother of Stephanie Thomas (19), of Washington D.C., who was murdered in 2002. “There is no word for the grief a mother has to endure. As Solomon said, ‘Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are.’”