Press

Task Force commemorates losses in the transgender community, celebrates victories for equality

Date: 
November 18, 2005

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force commemorates losses in the transgender community, celebrates victories for equality

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

‘The Task Force grieves for and honors all transgender people whose voices are now silenced and in shadow, and whose shattered lives call out to us, the living, to recommit ourselves to creating a nation where new laws, honest morality and true decency combine to stop the violence forever.’ — Marsha Botzer, Task Force board co-chair

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force commemorates global Transgender Day of Remembrance, Sunday, Nov. 20, by reflecting on the loss of members of the transgender community due to hate or prejudice.

“Recent statistics show that transgender people suffer from 11 percent of bias crimes committed against all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a percentage of attacks far in excess of their numbers in the population, continuing to make the transgender community one of the most vulnerable in our society,” said Clarence Patton, executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

“Today we remember all those who have fallen victim to anti-transgender hate,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “We know that, for every crime that comes to light, there are dozens more that will remain forever unknown, ignored by law enforcement. Today let us hold in our hearts and minds all those victims — known and unknown — and rededicate ourselves to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people.”

Debbie Weill, executive director of DignityUSA, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholic organization, said, “On this Day of Remembrance, we honor those who have died tragically and needlessly because they were transgender. We hope this day helps to call attention to the high levels of harassment and violence transgender people endure on a daily basis.”

“As a transgender person of faith,” Weill added, “I thank God for the wonderful diversity and richness of gender and pray for people of all faiths to embrace transgender people as part of God’s family.”

Although losses in the transgender community have been profound, this past year saw significant gains for the transgender rights movement.

States that passed or amended nondiscrimination laws to include transgender protections:

  • Illinois — One of the few states to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination law that included protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Maine — Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender anti-discrimination law passed by state Legislature; upheld by general election ballot initiative by a 55–45 percent margin.
  • Hawaii — Added protections for transgender people to state housing anti-discrimination law.
  • California — Amended its insurance code to prohibit discrimination against trans- people and clarified that discrimination by public accommodations against LGBT people is prohibited.

Based on data from the 2000 Census, the total number of people now living in a jurisdiction with a transgender-inclusive, anti-discrimination law in the United States is 78.9 million people, 28 percent of the nation’s population.

States that amended hate crimes laws to include LGBT people:

  • Maryland — Became the ninth state with a hate crimes law addressing bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Colorado — Expanded hate crimes law to include LGBT people after a 14-year fight to include this language and multiple defeats through the efforts of the religious right

With this year’s passage of these two laws, 10 states now have hate crimes laws that explicitly cover transgender people.

Federal legislative movement:

  • U.S. House of Representatives — For the first time a house of Congress passed a transgender-inclusive bill, with the passage of a hate crimes amendment to the Children’s Safety Act by the House of Representatives. The bill is currently awaiting hearing by a Senate committee.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project provides legislative and strategy assistance, including evaluation of legislative language, to activists and organizations working to pass trans-inclusive, anti-discrimination bills or to add transgender protections to existing laws. The project has collaborated with more than 100 local, state or national organizations in 34 states to help pass local or state laws.

Task Force publications dealing specifically with transgender issues include Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People, and Transgender Equality: A Handbook for Activists and Policymakers. For the reports and more details, visit http://www.thetaskforce.org/ourprojects/pi/pubs.cfm?PIissueID=8

Additional resources and media contacts:

  • Clarence Patton, executive director, Anti-Violence Project, 212.714.1184
  • Mara Keisling, executive director, National Center for Transgender Equality, 202.903.0112
  • Debbie Weill, executive director, DignityUSA, 202.861.0017
  • Marsha Botzer, board co-chair, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 646.358.1465
  • Lisa Mottet, transgender civil rights lawyer, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 646.358.1465
  • Richard Lindsay, communications associate, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 646.358.1474

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.