Call the cops? Police often participate in the intimidation themselves rather than providing protection. They often use abusive language, humiliate TGNC people and are widely responsible for injuries during custody and on routine patrols. In 2012, Lambda Legal’s national survey on police misconduct, Protected and Served?, found that 32% of TGNC respondents reported that police officers’ attitudes toward them had been hostile. Additionally, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found in 2013 that transgender people were 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence than the general population.
In recent years, the rash of murders has prompted an outcry. Since 1998, November 20th has been marked annually around the world as Transgender Day of Remembrance. Following years of grassroots campaigning, a U.S. federal hate crimes law now covers TGNC victims. And protests against police brutality are beginning to bring changes in a few major American cities.
Nonetheless, there are continued reports about TGNC people being degraded, physically assaulted or sexually abused while under arrest. These harken back to one of the first and most high-profile campaigns to hold police accountable for anti-transgender violence: the murder case of transgender teen Brandon Teena. In 2001, the Nebraska Supreme Court held a local sheriff liable for both his own abusive treatment of Teena and his failure to protect him from murder after his rapists threatened his life. (Lambda Legal argued the case on appeal.)
This fact sheet describes current battles against anti-TGNC violence and mentions a variety of ways to connect with advocates and services, whether participating in community events; helping establish TGNC-friendly police policies; or reaching out for legal advice or support through Lambda Legal’s Help Desk at 866-542-8336 or www.lambdalegal.org/help.