November 20th marks the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance meant to honor those who have died due to anti-transgender violence. Today raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people and honors the work of those who continue the work toward full inclusion. In a historic moment for civil and human rights in the United States, President Obama signed the hate crime bill into law on October 28, 2009. The measure expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
After signing the bill, President Obama made a few remarks and specifically addressed the law makers:
“You understood that we must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits — not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear,” Mr. Obama said. “You understand that the rights afforded every citizen under our Constitution mean nothing if we do not protect those rights — both from unjust laws and violent acts.”
When addressing the needs and resources of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ) students, college and university campuses sometimes focus attention and resources exclusively towards students that identify as gay or lesbian, often ignoring those that identify as transgender. Despite the dearth of research on violence in the transgender community, existing data demonstrates that transgendered people are at higher risk of experiencing abuse by the police and medical professionals, in addition to being subjected to street violence and domestic/intimate partner abuse.
One approach to having more transgender inclusive anti-sexual assault services is through education and awareness. By developing amd sustaining meaningful, professional relationships with the staff and students at your campus LGBTQ center or the local LGBT center not only expands the staff’s skills and knowledge, but ultimately and most importantly, improves the delivery of services and outreach to transgender students whom often experience alienation and harassment. By being more trans-inclusive, institutions take a necessary step towards creating a safer campus community for all.
For more information, please check out the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) for resources near you.