While a sizable portion—35 percent—of transgender people in the United States report that they live in the South, the region suffers from a dangerous lack of laws to protect them from high levels of violence.
A report from Southerners on New Ground (SONG) and the Transgender Law Center found that nearly half of transgender people in 13 Southern states experience significant levels of violence and discrimination. According to Rewire.News:
Released on Tuesday [May 14], the study, “Grapevine: A Southern Trans Report,” found that 47 percent of transgender people living in the 13 Southern states surveyed—which include Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia—reported “high levels of violence by strangers” as they go about their daily lives. Forty-one percent of those surveyed say they have been targeted, harassed or physically assaulted by members of law enforcement.
The report documented a number of other alarming stats: nearly 6 in 10 surveyed transgender women say they have been harassed or abused by a stranger, 52 percent of transgender people of color in these states say they faced harassment or abuse from police officers, and 4 out of 10 respondents said a medical provider had verbally or physically mistreated them because of their gender identity.
“A lot of people—including governments—are looking for numbers and hardcore data to support what we’ve been saying has been going on in our community for a very long time,” Zahara Green, executive director of TRANScending Barriers Atlanta, told Rewire.News. “This report provides the evidence to hopefully be able to get the resources we need to address these issues.”
These reported incidences of violence are happening in states that offer little in terms of legal protection for transgender communities. Currently, of the 13 states surveyed, not one has a statewide law banning discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing or employment. And Rewire.News reports, “At least six states in the Southern United States—Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia and Oklahoma—do not have any form of LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes protections at the statewide level. Two Southern states have yet to pass any hate crime laws at all: Arkansas and South Carolina.”
Less than a week after the report was released, a transgender woman was murdered in Texas—a state included in the research. On Saturday (May 18), 22-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was found dead on a Dallas street. Last month, Booker was assaulted by several men in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the city. It was captured in a video that went viral on social media. Police investigating her death do not know if there is a connection, reports CNN.
Read the entire report here.