Startling new data released Monday shows that the rate of hate crime murders in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in at least 27 years.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), 24 people were murdered last year in killings motivated by prejudice and hate. The tally includes the 11 people gunned down during the October 2018 mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
The FBI’s definition of a hate crime includes “criminal [offenses] against a person or property, motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claimed the total is the highest recorded by the FBI since the bureau first began tracking hate crimes in 1991.
“It is unacceptable that Jews and Jewish institutions continue to be at the center of religion-based hate crime attacks,” said its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, told CBS News in a statement. “We need to take concrete action to address and combat this significant problem.”
While the FBI report doesn’t break down how many of the victims were LGBTQ+, a significant number are likely to be queer or transgender. In 2018, nearly two dozen trans people have been killed — including Muhlaysia Booker, Ashanti Carmon, Chynal Lindsey, and Bee Love Slater. Almost all of them were Black trans women, and the vast majority lost their lives as a result of gun violence.
However, not all of those killings were prosecuted as hate crimes, as 37 states do not include gender identity in their anti-bias statutes. Many deaths of trans women aren’t recorded at all, as they face being frequently misgendered by police and identified as a “man in a dress.”
Overall, the number of hate crimes against trans and gender nonconforming people shot up by 40 percent: from 131 in 2017 to 184 in 2018.
Although the FBI claims that the hate crime rate decreased for the general population between 2017 and 2018 — following steady increases for three years — that is only true when factoring in property crimes, which dipped in 2018. Last year, the number of violent hate crimes was the highest it has been in 16 years, and physical attacks on trans people rose 34 percent.
Many have cited President Donald Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda — which includes 130 policies and decisions negatively impacting the community — as emboldening attacks on queer and trans people since he took office. Hate crimes rose 17 percent during the first year of his administration.
In fact, several physical assaults against LGBTQ+ people in recent years have been perpetrated by Trump supporters, such as a North Carolina man who knocked down a gay couple in 2017 and yelled, “You live in Trump country now!”
The president has never apologized for or condemned attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals by his followers.