A new report revealed that nearly a majority of transgender people in the US South have experienced ‘high levels of violence’ from law enforcement.
The Transgender Law Center and Southerners On New Ground released The Grapevine: A Southern Trans Report on Tuesday (14 May). This report details the experience of trans peope living in the Southern states of the country.
Results of this report come from a 2017 survey of 135 transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming Southerners.
Most of the respondents identified as trans women (32%), gender nonbinary (31%), or trans masculine (20%). For sexual orientation, most respondents said they were queer (44%) or gay (28%).
The main age range of the survey was 18-45.
Suffering violence from institutions of power
Almost half of all respondents (47%) said they experienced ‘high levels of violence’ from strangers.
The report defines ‘high levels of violence’ as harassment, discrimination, as well as verbal and physical violence.
However, trans women and femmes reported violent experiences at higher rates (58%). This is a known trend of the violence and discrimination LGBTI face in the world.
‘We felt many eyes on ourselves as we were out in public, worried about violence coming from anywhere,’ said one black trans woman in Selma, Alabama. ‘We would have no recourse.’
Other high reports of violence stemmed from institutions of power, including police and healthcare providers.
4 in 10 respondents said they experienced violence from police and healthcare providers, while the number for police violence increased to over half when looking at just respondents of color.
Priorities of these Southerners
Trans and non-cis Southerners also shared their living conditions in the survey.
15% reported being HIV positive, with over half adding they had an undectable viral load. Another 12% said they were currently or formerly incarcerated and over 7 in 10 reported an income of $45,000 or less.
Respondents also identified two main issues that encouraged them to become active and create change.
The top two issues were healthcare and law enforcement accountability.
‘The one constant’
‘As a Black trans woman in the South, I’m personally all too familiar with the findings laid out today,’ said Kayla Gore, the Southern Regional Organizer for TLC@SONG of the report’s findings.
‘The one constant through the widespread discrimination we face is our ability to support and rely on each other, which is why it’s incredibly powerful to have data created by and for trans and gender nonconforming people living in the South.’
She added the report will be useful for activists seeking change.