(EDGE) A new and startling report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs claims that more LGBTQ people have been killed in the United States so far this year than all of 2016.
Though only eight months have passed in 2017, the organization finds 33 hate-violence-related homicides of LGBTQ people as of August, topping last year's total of 28 (this number did not count the 49 people killed in the mass shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando last June). According to BuzzFeed, 15 of the 33 LGBTQ people murdered have been transgender women of color and at least 12 were cisgender gay men.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said there was no clear or exact explanation for the increase of LGBTQ related murders, but BuzzFeed writes "that it could be driven by a combination of increased media reporting, more accurate identification of victims by law enforcement, and a possible increase in violence. Increased media attention to LGBT rights - and particularly transgender rights - in recent months could also be part of the explanation."
Beverly Tillery, executive director at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, explained to BuzzFeed:
"I think whether it's an increase in reporting, an increase in violence, or some combination thereof, it should be a wake-up call for us across our communities that hate violence is not going away, it's certainly not decreasing, and it's symptomatic of larger and deeper problems in our society that we still haven't addressed."
"There are a lot more homicides of LGBT people than what they report," Dallas Drake, senior researcher at the Center for Homicide Research, added. "They don't report generally from communities that are smaller or where cases are not easily identifiable as LGBT homicides."
BuzzFeed notes the organization's report is not definitive "but it's the most comprehensive yearly indicator - in the absence of reliable nationwide government data - of how many homicides of LGBT people are being reported around the country."
Vanessa Panfil, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Virginia's Old Dominion University, points out an increase of violence is in line with real backlash against progress made when it comes to LGBT rights in America.
The increase in violence could be "influenced by heterosexism, transphobia, and homophobia that have always existed but now partly fueled by backlash," Panfil, who studies hate crimes against LGBT people, told BuzzFeed.
Click here to read BuzzFeeed's full report on he National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' findings.