Violence toward trans community getting little attention

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transgender symbol

Study shows networks ignore most violence toward trans community

A recent report from Media Matters for America of broadcast and cable TV news found they discussed anti-trans violence only eight times in all of 2019. The eight evening news broadcasts in total showed 18 minutes and 23 seconds on the subject all year.

The only exception was during a one-night political event. In the report CNN’s historic LGBTQ town hall, held on October 10, accounted for an additional 15 minutes, bringing the total coverage of anti-trans violence in 2019 to 33 minutes and 25 seconds total.

The analysis looked at nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as cable evening news coverage on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, occurring between 5 pm and midnight in 2019. Top trends from a year of anti-trans violence coverage on evening broadcasts and cable news, included:

  • Outside of CNN’s LGBTQ town hall, deadly violence against trans people was discussed only eight times for a total of 18 minutes and 23 seconds of coverage during corporate broadcast and cable evening news programs.
  • Democratic presidential candidates and audience members at CNN’s October 10 town hall discussed anti-trans violence an additional five times for a total of 15 minutes and 2 seconds of coverage.
  • Including the town hall and all other discussion, anti-trans violence was discussed for 33 minutes and 25 seconds during evening news coverage in 2019.
  • NBC’s nightly news show and MSNBC’s evening news programs failed to cover anti-trans violence a single time in 2019.
  • Including its town hall, CNN devoted the most evening coverage to anti-trans violence out of the networks examined, with a total of 27 minutes and 30 seconds. This was four times more coverage than all other networks combined.
  • Evening cable and broadcast TV news did not include a single openly trans person as a guest to discuss anti-trans violence.
  • Only four of the 13 total segments mentioned the name of a slain trans person.
  • In the network’s sole segment discussing anti-trans violence, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson politicized the issue in order to suggest that Democrats were becoming too extreme on trans issues. He did not actually address alarming rates of violence.
  • Though we did not include PBS in the full data set, we analyzed its coverage as a comparison point; episodes of PBS NewsHour’s weekday and weekend edition reported on anti-trans violence for 9 minutes and 17 seconds, more than all of the corporate broadcast networks’ coverage combined.
Jersey City, NJ Transgender March on February 3 2017. Photo by B. Nick.
File photo: Jersey City, NJ Transgender March on February 3 2017. Photo by B. Nick.

“Insufficient reporting on anti-trans violence is one major reflection of the larger failure  in TV [primetime] news to report on the issues facing the already marginalized trans community. And in the absence of meaningful reporting on trans issues, right wing media outlets  can can spread viule misinformation and dominate [the[ coverage of the topic,” said study author Alex Paterson, LGBTQ team researcher at Media Matters. “Evening TV news programs reach tens of millions of viewers a night and have a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage about the rise in anti-trans violence.”

In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign named at least 25 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were brutally killed in the U.S. and 21 of them were Black trans women. Another victim was a Black gender-nonconforming person. The Williams Institute estimates that 16% of the 1.4 million transgender adults in the U.S. identify as African-American or Black, making the rate of killings of Black trans women considerably higher than the murder rate. A 2016 report by Mic estimated that the murder rate for young Black trans women in the U.S. is 1 in 2,600, which is four times higher than the murder rate for young adults (1 in 12,000 at the time). The rise in anti-trans violence has become so grave that it prompted the American Medical Association to create a plan to bring national attention to the issue.

The FBI has reported that hate crimes targeting trans people are at an all-time high

Many of these killings were particularly gruesome. The number of trans people killed each year is also likely under-reported say many activists. One study concluded “in the United States there is no formal data collection effort that can be used to describe the nature, frequency, or extent of transgender homicides.”

The FBI has reported that hate crimes targeting trans people are at an all-time high. Many of the  discriminatory social conditions contribute to the community’s high risks of suicide and violence, which also impacts Black trans people.

The 25 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who HRC reported were killed in 2019 were:

Jamagio Jamar Berryman, Muhlaysia Booker, Paris Cameron, Ashanti Carmon, Jordan Cofer, Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, Kiki Fantroy, Brianna “BB” Hill, Nikki Kuhnhausen, Claire Legato, Brooklyn Lindsey, Chynal Lindsey, Itali Marlowe, Dana Martin, Yahira Nesby, Bailey Reeves, Chanel Scurlock, Tracy Single, Bee Love Slater, Zoe Spears, Denali Berries Stuckey, Jazzaline Ware, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, Bubba Walker, and Ellie Marie Washtock.