By Dane Feldman
The rally after Mark Carson’s death in NYC last May. Photo by Dane Feldman.
May of 2013 is remembered as a violent time for New York City. Anti-gay hate crimes were frequent–the month saw at least 9 reported, including the murder of Mark Carson, 32, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
In colloquial conversation, New York City is generally acknowledged as offering a safe haven for the LGBTQ community. In particular, Greenwich Village is home to the famous Stonewall Inn, where protestors held the Stonewall riots in June of 1969. The neighborhood known as the birthplace of gay pride–where its streets are used to name LGBTQ holidays abroad–faced an unfortunate irony, as it is the same place where Carson took his final steps on a night out.
By August of last year, there were “68 reported anti-gay incidents” in New York, including 41 assaults. For some comparative perspective, the total number of anti-gay crimes investigated in 2012 was 54.
Nationwide, 2013 also saw a total of 18 reported homicides as a result of anti-gay hate crimes. Thirteen of those 18 were transgender women and 9 of the 13 were black. Islan Nettles, one of those 9, was a New York City resident.
LGBTQ activists and transgender women argue that not much changed since Nettles was killed just over a year ago. Statistically speaking, so far in 2014, 18 hate crimes against transgender individuals were reported, and five of those victims were killed. Only two of the 18 attacks occurred in NYC and neither person was murdered. If such numbers remain as is, 2014 may be a much less violent year against trans individuals than 2013.
BTR has briefly covered transphobia in media reporting as well as the work of activist and transgender actress Laverne Cox. However, even if the general public is becoming more sensitive or exposed to transgender issues, determining whether Cox’s work contributes to the decrease in violence is nearly impossible to say.
In the fifteen months that have passed since Carson’s untimely death, many recall the event and the concentration of violent occurrences that surrounded it. Nevertheless, while the numbers for 2013 are staggering, other reports for 2014 are currently scarce and trickling in slowly.
Before reports are finalized, we can examine individual cases. Just starting the year off, this January saw the brutal attack of journalist Randy Gener, 46, in Midtown Manhattan. Gener, an openly gay man, was so badly injured that he required brain surgery. Just a few weeks ago in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a homophobic man attacked a woman who had allegedly defended her gay friends following the perpetrator’s verbal assault.
In terms of a national scale, it appears that the LGBTQ community across the United States still suffers from hate crimes. For instance, in Seattle, the Capitol Hill neighborhood is recognized as a safe place for LGBTQ people. Yet recently, a gay couple was murdered in that very section of the city. Though the crime is described as a vengeance killing for political reasons not having to do with the victims’ sexual orientation, news of the shocking case sparked statistical analysis that concluded an increase of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes over the past few years.
To date, though, these reports exclude more conclusive information from 2014 and decisive data will not be released until the end of the year. Because of the situation, it is not possible to fully determine annual differences at this time. With that in mind, it is safe to say that violence against LGBTQ people in NYC is not producing nearly as staggering a number as of this time last year, at least in what has been acknowledged thus far. In all respect to the cases that were reported as of now, it is possible that the total number of anti-LGBTQ attacks will end up smaller than last year, which means that the increasingly violent trend may not develop any further.
According to BuzzFeed, it is important to note that not all reports of violence against transgender men and women are properly cited in the media. This article reflects only the reports regarding individuals that were identified respectfully and correctly.