More Trans People Have Been Killed in 2015 Than Ever Before

At least 81 transgender people have been killed this year, according to new, possibly incomplete data

Friday is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Credit: Mahesh Kumar A/AP/Corbis

At least 81 transgender individuals were killed worldwide this year, according to a tally kept by the group behind the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

At least 21 of those murders were committed in the United States, per a report released by the Human Rights Campaign and the Trans People of Color Coalition — more in the first six months of the year than in all of 2014. Almost all of those killed were trans women of color.

The organizations keeping track of these numbers caveat their counts with the qualifier "at least" because they represent ad hoc tallies, which, incomplete as they may be, still do a better job of tracking deaths than the government does.

According to the FBI's 2014 hate crime statistics, released this week, victims targeted for their gender identity accounted for just 1.6 percent of crimes reported this year. 

Analyses shows the FBI's counts drastically underestimate hate crimes in general — accounting for just two to four percent of hate crimes actually committed, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates — but the problem is especially bad for gender bias crimes.

The FBI only began collecting data on crimes motivated by the victim's gender identity in 2009, after the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act. According to the HRC, the count still only includes data volunteered by local jurisdictions.

A 2013 analysis conducted by the HRC found that the FBI recorded only 33 gender identity-motivated crimes nationwide, none of which were murder or manslaughter. By the HRC's tally, at least 19 trans people were killed that year, including in high-profile cases like Islan Nettles in New York, Cece Dove in Ohio and Diamond Williams in Philadelphia.

"These totals represent only the known victims; there may very well be countless other victims of fatal anti-transgender violence whose deaths we will never know about because police, the press or family members have consistently misidentified them based on their assigned sex and name at birth," Kylar Broadus, executive director of the Trans People of Color Coalition, wrote in the introduction to the coalition's joint report with the HRC.