(EDGE) On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released hate crime statistics for 2016. This information, released at the start of Transgender Awareness Week, highlights the ongoing epidemic of anti-transgender violence.
In 2016, 6,121 hate crime incidents were reported --an increase of five percent from 2015. Of the 6,121 incidents reported,1,076 were based on sexual orientation bias, and 124 were based on gender identity bias. These numbers reflect a two percent and nine percent increase, respectively.
Of the 124 incidents based on gender identity, 19 targeted gender non-conforming people, a decrease of 54 percent from 2015. Of those same 124 incidents, 105 targeted transgender people, an increase of 44 percent from 2015.
However, these numbers likely represent only a fraction of such cases, given that reporting hate crimes to the FBI is not mandatory. Thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country did not submit any data. And while the number of jurisdictions reporting hate crimes data increased to 15,251 in 2016 from 14,997 in 2015, this is still less than the 15,494 agencies that reported in 2014. The lack of mandatory reporting means that the FBI data, while helpful, paints an incomplete picture of hate crimes against LGBTQ Americans.
Jurisdictions with populations of more than 250,000 were among the thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country that did not submit hate crimes data, and the vast majority of those -- 88 percent -- simply indicated to the FBI that no hate crimes had occurred. More than 90 cities with more than 100,000 residents either affirmatively reported zero hate crimes or ignored the FBI request for their 2016 hate crime data.
Over the past year, LGBTQ civil rights organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has been calling on the Trump administration to do more to respond to hate crimes. In March, HRC joined 155 other civil and human rights organizations in urging the Trump administration to respond to bias-motivated acts of violence and intimidation more strongly. The letter cited examples of hate incidents, including the murder of seven transgender women of color, the February shooting targeting two Indian Hindu Americans in Kansas, and the numerous bomb threats against Jewish organizations and houses of worship, among others.
In addition, in September, HRC joined more than 80 organizations on a letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore at the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division outlining steps that the DOJ should take in the wake of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville and in response to other bias-motivated crimes across the country. The letter also highlights the coalition's broader priorities to help inform the DOJ's plan of action to prevent and respond to hate violence.
Since the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009, HRC has worked with the FBI to update the agency's crime reporting, from providing training materials to sharing details on hate crimes when they occur. HRC continues to press for improved reporting, passage of state laws that protect LGBTQ individuals from hate crimes and expanded education and training initiatives.