Transgender Hate Crimes

This month, several Brooklyn Law School student organizations including OutLaws, the National Lawyers Guild and BLSPI presented a panel discussion Transgender Hate Crimes: Victims, Their Families & Advocates Speak Out on transgender hate crimes. The session focused on members of the transgender community who face discrimination, harassment, abuse and violence and featured Leslie Mora and Carmella Etienne, both victims of hate crimes in two separate incidents in Queens, along with the family of Lateisha Green, a young African American woman from Syracuse who was shot to death in a car as she rode with her gay brother, who was wounded by the same gunman.

These cases demonstrate the potential for violence perpetrated against those who are singled out for attack because of their gender identity or expression. Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Andy Marra, senior media strategist at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), discussed the status of gender identity and expression in federal and state hate crimes law as well as strategies that transgender community members can use to educate the public through the media on issues of gender identity and expression.

Statistics from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs show that murders of LGBT people in 2008 increased 28% from the previous year and that on average, a transgender person is murdered once a month in the United States. The NY Times has an article on the BLS panel discussion in an article that discussed the effort in the State Legislature to include gender identity in NY’s hate crime law. Previous effort to expand hate crime categories have failed to become law in NY. With these high-profile cases involving transgender victims, the outcome this year could be different, particularly as the USHouse of Representatives recently passed a measure expanding the definition of hate crimes under federal law to include a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. See post dated Oct. 11. Furthermore, today the US Senate approved by a vote of 68-29 its companion bill on hate crimes legislation that was part of a $680 billion idefense spending bill.

The BLS Library has in its collection several items on the topic including Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Clients: a Lawyer’s Guide by Joan M. Burda (Cal l # KF337.5.G38 B87 2008) with chapters that include: Representing lesbian, gay, and transgender clients — LGT relationships — LGT families — Children — Adoption — Parenting rights — LGBT students and schools — Representing transgender/transsexual clients — Lesbian, gay, and transgender elders — Estate planning – Immigration.

The library collection also has Transgender Rights edited by Paisley Currah, et als. (Call # HQ77.9 .T716 2006) with chapters entitled Pursuing protection for transgender people through disability laws — The evolution of employment discrimination protections for transgender people — The rights of intersexed infants and children : decision of the Colombian Constitutional Court, Bogotá, Colombia, 12 May 1999 — Do transsexuals dream of gay rights?: getting real about transgender inclusion — Transgender communities of the United States in the late twentieth century — Compliance is gendered: struggling for gender self-determination in a hostile economy — Trans)sexual citizenship in contemporary Argentina / Reinscribing normality?: the law and politics of transgender marriage — Afterword: Are transgender rights Inhuman rights?