Transgender People Fear More Attacks after Trump’s Victory

The transgender community has complained of an increase in attacks directed at its members. (Photo from LGBT Community Center via El Diario)

The transgender community has complained of an increase in attacks directed at its members. (Photo from LGBT Community Center via El Diario)

Transgender Week of Remembrance and Resilience could not have been organized at a better time. Since Donald Trump won the presidency, an increase in hate crimes has been reported, and the LGBT community is one of the most affected by attacks.

“I feel that this week [of Nov. 14] started out with more hatred against us,” said Aury Martínez, a 43-year-old transgender woman from Mexico, adding that she was relieved to have a session scheduled with her therapist the day after the presidential election. “He told me not to be afraid and to focus.”

So far in 2016, a significant increase in crimes against the LGBT community has been observed, and most victims have been trans individuals. According to figures provided by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), as of Nov. 13, 98 hate crimes had been reported by this community, in contrast with 66 recorded for the same period in 2015, a 48 percent increase.

These alarming figures have led the New York City Commission on Human Rights to hold a Transgender Week of Remembrance and Resilience for the first time, which ended [last Sunday]. Its two main goals were to remember the victims and organize the community.

“Violence and hatred have no place in New York City,” said Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis. “This week, as we remember the 26 transgender individuals who have lost their lives this year, I call on all New Yorkers to rise against hate, fear [and] discrimination, and to do their part to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Events programmed for the week included a vigil held on Thursday night in Elmhurst, Queens, in which dozens of people gathered to remember trans people who have been murdered because of their gender identity. There, Martínez remembered two friends who lost their lives, one of them due to domestic violence and the other in an assault.

Latina victims

At least 15 of the reported cases of hate crimes against transgender people were perpetrated against Latina trans women, a group that has turned to Make the Road New York (MRNY) for help. Bianey García, the LGBT organizer for MRNY in Queens, said that the victims had been attacked with hammers, baseball bats, glass bottles or mere brute force.

“We have always been a target of these attacks. The bright side is that the girls who have been attacked are now reporting the cases because we have been able to achieve visibility, and they know that we’re here and that we will support them in any way we can,” said García, adding that her organization accompanies victims to police precincts to file their complaints and also organizes weekly support groups.

Even though many Latina trans women are afraid to denounce incidents to the NYPD, the police say that they investigate all complaints without discriminating. “A person’s gender identity or immigration status is not a determining factor. We encourage all crime victims to report their incidents to the police,” said Sgt. Carlos Nieves.

Many of the organizations and activists working with the LGBT community, such as MRNY, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) and the Anti-Violence Project, among others, fear that anti-gay sentiment, particularly against trans people, will increase with Trump’s new presidency.

Stefanie Rivera, director of client services at the SRLP, said that, even though many of the organization’s customers are fearful due to the anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant tension, they are beginning to “decipher how to mobilize” before the new administration takes office. The SRLP helps transgender people change their names and gender in official documents and offers workshops on transgender rights.

“This gentleman will not end in four years what we in the movement have been building for over 40 years,” said García from MRNY when referring to the fear that Trump’s victory has generated. “The LGBT community in the city is more united than ever.”

A different type of discrimination

Aside from an increase in criminal incidents, the city’s Commission on Human Rights has noticed a spike in complaints made by trans people regarding housing and employment discrimination.

Martínez, who was a victim of domestic violence, also suffered housing discrimination due to her gender identity. “We need to make our voice stronger to say no to more violence against us, because we don’t hurt people,” she said.

Lorenzo Van Ness, an associate human rights specialist who works at the commission’s community office in Queens, said that more people “are aware of their rights and aware that they can come to the commission.”

“People are trying to build community to prepare themselves for anything that may happen in the future, as now more than ever we need to come together as a community, with our allies and in the city as a whole,” said Van Ness.

A pioneer city

In the last two years and through the Commission on Human Rights, Bill de Blasio’s administration has set out to improve its contact with this community and to pass laws to guarantee equality for transgender people.

For instance, the Big Apple was the first large city to launch a publicity campaign to reaffirm the right of trans and non-conforming individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to their identity. Also, alongside the LGBT Center, the commission began offering workshops to educate city agencies, individuals, employees and housing providers about the rights and abilities of trans people.

Find help:

New York City Commission on Human Rights

Make the Road New York

  • People may visit the office from Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • 92-10 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map)
  • (718) 565-8500

Anti-Violence Project

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

  • 147 W 24th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011 (map)
    (between 6th and 7th avenues)
  • (212) 337-8550

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