The House LGBT Equality Conference announced this morning that they will hold the first ever congressional forum on transgender issues next Tuesday.
Following a press conference in the morning to launch the Task Force the forum will specifically address violence against the transgender community.
The forum comes during Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates with Friday's Transgender Day of Awareness.
This week, as we seek to raise awareness of the issues facing the trans community, it is important to renew our commitment to help trans individuals be free of the fear of violence or bullying just for being who they are. It is my hope that by launching this workforce and holding a first-ever forum, we will reach some of my colleagues and encourage them to stand with the trans community. It is only through social change that we can truly elevate the conversation in this country and reach a place of true understanding and embrace all people for who they are.
--Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), who has a transgender granddaughter
Most of this year's 21 transgender murder victims were trans women of color.
Imagine fearing for your life every day. That nightmare is a reality for far too many transgender women, a nightmare that deserves national attention.
At least 21 transgender people – almost all women of color – have been murdered this year. Today, transgender women are more than 4 times as likely to be murdered in the U.S. than other women. This forum will bring together a coalition of families, advocates, lawmakers, and other leaders to address the realities that conspire to put transgender people at risk. We are proud to be a part of this work and hope this forum will lead to greater collaboration and action to help end this epidemic of violence.
--Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin
Other members of Congress for the forum, which will be chaired by Honda, are Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Joe kennedy (D-MA).
Panelists who will testify include La La Zannell of the Anti-Violence Project, who is a survivor of violence, Laura Sorenson and Morris Home, leaders of a drug and alcohol treatment facility dedicated to serving the transgender community, and writer, advocate and organizer Joanna Cifredo, who is also a survivor of violence.
A separate panel on policy and how to end bias-motivated violence against transgender people will be chaired by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and include Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). They will hear from panelists Chad Griffin (HRC), Mara Keisling (National Center for Transgender Equality), Kylar Broadus (Trans People of Color Coalition), and Sharon Lettman-Hicks (National Black Justice Coalition).
Coinciding with the announcement of the forum was the joint release by HRC and TPOCC of a report on the epidemic of violence, Addressing Anti-Transgender Violence: Exploring Realities, Challenges and Solutions for Policymakers and Community Advocates.
There are now more transgender homicide victims in 2015 than in any other year that advocates have recorded. At least 21 people––nearly all of them transgender women of color––have lost their lives to violence. This kind of violence is often motivated by anti-transgender bias; but that is rarely the only factor. At a time when transgender people are finally gaining visibility and activists are forcing our country to confront systemic violence against people of color, transgender women of color are facing an epidemic of violence that occurs at the intersections of racism, sexism and transphobia––issues that advocates can no longer afford to address separately.
The LGBT community has long counted on our non-LGBT allies to stand beside us in the fight for equality; and right now, the transgender community needs allies more than ever as we fight for our very survival. We are proud to partner with HRC on this work, and we ask all of our cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight friends, loved ones and supporters to stand up against the continuing stigma and discrimination that is killing transgender people of color at alarming rates.
Recommendations made in the report include:
- Pass the Equality Act
- Support Emergency Housing Initiatives
- Expand Healthcare Coverage for transgender people
- Address Unemployment through Public-Private Partnerships and Non-Discrimination Protections
- Improve Educational Environments for Transgender Students
- Improve Law Enforcement Training, Response, and Hate Crime Reporting
- Become Allies to Transgender People