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Last month, D.C. police released a report breaking down every hate crime reported in D.C. [PDF] over the past five years. In 2007, changes to the D.C. Human Rights Act required police to begin recording hate-bias crimes motivated by the victim’s “gender identity or expression”—-in other words, crimes that specifically target transgender victims. Since then, crimes against the transgender community have been the second most frequently recorded type of hate crime committed in D.C., after sexual orientation.

Since 2007, D.C. police have recorded 16 bias-related crimes based on gender identity. Last year, D.C. recorded seven of these crimes (which can include anything from destruction of property to assault to murder). But as trans activist group the DC Trans Coalition notes, transgender victims often face barriers to having crimes against them reported, investigated, and properly coded as a hate crime. According to the DCTC, “Since 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.”

And because the transgender community in D.C. is so small, seven crimes in a year is an extremely significant figure. We’re talking about a very limited population of potential targets, which means that any hate crime against a trans person holds more power to terrorize the entire community.

In 2009, D.C. experienced several highly visible bias crimes motivated by the victim’s gender identity. Last March, a transgender man was assaulted outside of Fab Lounge by some of the gay bar’s other patrons. In August, Tyli’a Mack and a friend, both trans women, were stabbed on the street in the middle of the afternoon. Mack was killed. The most recent hate-bias crime based on gender identity occurred last weekend, when two transgender individuals were assaulted in Petworth with a metal pole.

The new D.C. police report resolves one reporting problem for D.C.’s transgender community: In an original hate crimes report released in November of last year, D.C. police failed to distinguish between gender identity and sexual orientation in its data, leaving the transgender community with no information on how many victims were being targeted specifically for their gender identity. After some prodding by activists, D.C. released the fully differentiated data last month.

Since 2005, a bias related to sexual orientation has been the most frequent type of bias for hate
crimes in the District. In 2009, a bias based on sexual orientation accounted for 73 percent of all
hate crimes. The next most common bias was based on gender identity or expression,4
There has been a small decline in bias-related crimes, from highs in 2005 (44 crimes) and 2006
(54 crimes), to 38 to 41 crimes in each of the past three years. Over the past five years, there has
been a marked decline in crimes based on religion, race, and ethnicity/national origin – from a
combined high of 16 in 2006 to a low of five in 2009. The number of crimes based on sexual
orientation or gender identity
with five
biased-related crimes against transgender individuals. In addition, there were three crimes based
on ethnicity or national origin, two racially motivated hate crimes, and one crime based on
political affiliation. There are a few notable trends in the data from 2005 through 2009. However,
since the number of crimes is relatively low, it is important to note that small shifts in numbers
can appear larger and more significant in percentages. Therefore any shifts should be interpreted
has experienced the most variance, from a low of 26 crimes in
2007, to a high of 36 in 2006. However, because crimes based on other types of bias have
decreased in the past two years, there has been a marked shift in the proportion of crimes based
on sexual orientation or gender identity / expression. In 2005 and 2006, two-thirds of all bias-