One report found at least 25 transgender people have been killed this year. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said it had calculated 102 transgender people have been killed over the past five years. Another group, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programmes, has recorded 26 homicides for 2017.
“The epidemic of violence against transgender people is an urgent crisis that demands the nation’s immediate attention,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“The unique and tragic stories featured in this report reflect the obstacles that many transgender Americans - especially trans women of colour - face in their daily lives. It is crucial that we know these stories in order to combat the transphobia, misogyny and racism fuelling this violence so that we can end this epidemic before it takes any more lives.”
The escalating violence against transgender people is something that campaigners have been drawing attention to over the last few years. Activists say it is unclear whether the increase is a backlash to an increase in news reports about high profile transgender people such as Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning.
Activists say police frequently have little enthusiasm for investigating attacks on transgender people.The Associated Press said that both groups which released totals have warned their counts may be incomplete because transgender victims are sometimes misidentified in police and news reports.
In some cases, it can take weeks or months for friends and family to publicly clarify the gender identity of a victim who had transitioned from the gender given in initial police accounts of the death.
The HRC report said most states do not have laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people.
“Indeed, in many states, anti-transgender bias is ingrained and systematically enforced in nearly all aspects of life, including in laws and government agencies, schools, housing, health care and employment,” it said.
The report was issued ahead of Monday’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance observations that mark hundreds of transgender people killed worldwide each year.
Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded Transgender Day of Remembrance in 1999.
“I really didn’t expect it to go very far at all and was extremely surprised to see, and still am every time, how large the project has become, how large the event has grown,” she told NBC.
“You sit there and you read the ways that we’ve not only been murdered but our killers have attempted to erase us - have attempted to absolutely destroy our very existence - and it can be very difficult to sit with that, to go through those stories and see parts of yourself in those stories.”