15 January 2013

Safer, But Not For Trans People

Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in seemingly every speech he makes, reminds his listeners that New York is "the safest big city in America."

I have lived in The Big Apple for a long time.  I don't doubt that it is much safer than it was, say, 25 years ago--at least, if you're in the right neighborhoods.  And, I might add, if you're the right race and socioeconomic class--and gender.  Or, more precisely, if you express your gender identity in approved ways.

While overall crime rates may indeed be dropping, the amount of violence against transgender people is on the rise--in New York and everywhere else.

While New York City recorded fewer murders in 2012 than it did in any of the past 50 years, and the murder rate may be decreasing in other cities and countries, the number of murdered transgendered people has increased:  from 162 in 2009 to 179 in 2010 and 221 in 2011. That's an increase of 10 percent from 2009 to 2010, and of nearly 25 percent for the following year.

Now, some could argue that more such crimes are being reported, just as there is evidence that some of the reported decrease in overall crime can be explained through re-classification (or, in some cases, non-reporting) of some offenses.  However, whenever I talk to trans people--trans women, especially--and people whose work involves helping us, I hear more stories about violence and more fear of it.  

While many people are learning more about us and realizing that we're not child molesters or drag queens in overdrive, and accepting us, there's another segment of the population that makes us the butt of jokes or the scourge of society.  An unattractive woman is compared to a "tranny"; an angry, frustrated cis woman tried to cloak her transphobia in a defense of women.

As long some continue to accept such bigotry, the world will not become a safer place for trans people. 

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