Metropolitan Police Department Releases Statistics on Anti-Trans Bias Crimes: Our Response
A few weeks ago, the Metropolitan Police Department released the number of reported hate crimes targeting trans and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia. From 2007-2009 there were 16 reported crimes motivated by prejudice due to gender identity and expression, accounting for 11-18% of all recorded bias-motivated crimes (depending on the year). Especially considering the relatively small size of our community, these high numbers largely confirm what many already knew: violence against trans people is a persistent problem in our city.
In November of last year, the MPD released its initial Biased Crime Report. However, the original document failed to meet a requirement to report crimes motivated by gender identity and expression separately. The DC Trans Coalition immediately responded, citing the MPD’s erasure of anti-trans violence as a major factor in the breaking-down of trust between the police and trans communities in DC. After considerable pressure from the DCTC and our allies, in February of 2010 the MPD released an addendum including these new figures.
While we at the DCTC are relieved to see the MPD finally acknowledging the scope of the problem, there is still much work to be done. Because many trans communities (particularly low-income trans women of color and those who are sex workers) experience violence at the hands of police themselves, it is likely that anti-trans crimes in general are under-reported. Further, DCTC has also learned via a Freedom of Information Act request that MPD still is not tracking statistics about police response rates to cases involving trans individuals.
To alleviate these problems, MPD should begin by mandating training for all officers on issues faced by trans people in DC. This training must be informed by knowledgeable advocates from affected communities. After several months of negotiations, we recently learned that the MPD has invited many community organizations, including the DCTC and many of our allies, to take part in drafting continuing training for officers in the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit to take place in the summer of 2010. This is an important step toward our goal of obligatory, community-informed training, and DCTC welcomes this opportunity to move forward.
Finally, DCTC will continue to analyze how issues of poverty, homelessness, racism, sexism, homophobia, harassment in our schools, the criminalization of sex work and many other institutional factors contribute to the disproportionately high rates of violence faced by trans individuals in DC, so that we might better understand how to end the climate of prejudice and hatred that allows bias-motivated crimes to flourish.