Gender identity and hate crimes: Violence against transgender people in Los Angeles County

  • Rebecca L. Stotzer
Special Issue Article


Although efforts to improve the documentation of violence based on perceived gender identity have been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, the actual analysis of the reports of such violence has been limited. This article reports on a study that examined 49 cases of violence based on gender identity in Los Angeles County from 2002 through 2006. Although underreporting of such crimes certainly remains an issue, the findings suggested 3 main conclusions: Hate crimes based on a victim’s gender identity are often violent, perpetrators often manifest and verbalize high levels of a variety of prejudices, and transgender persons may be targets of violence for reasons far more complex than simply their violation of gender norms. This article discusses findings about the intersections of race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and gender identity in the context of hate-motivated violence.


sexuality prejudice intersectionality verbalizations bias 


  1. Badgett, M. V. L., Lau, H., Sears, B., & Ho, D. (2007). Bias in the workplace: Consistent evidence of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Los Angeles: Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.Google Scholar
  2. Bernhard, L. A. (2000). Physical and sexual violence experienced by lesbian and heterosexual women. Violence Against Women, 6, 68–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clements-Nolle, K., Marx, R., & Katz, M. (2006). Attempted suicide among transgender persons: The influence of gender-based discrimination and victimization. Journal of Homosexuality, 51 (3), 53–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Comstock, G. D. (1991). Violence against lesbians and gay men. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dean, L., Meyer, I. H., Robinson, K., Sell, R. L., Sember, R., Silenzio, V. M. B., et al. (2004). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health: Findings and concerns. Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 4, 101–151.Google Scholar
  6. Dunbar, E. (2006). Race, gender, and sexual orientation in hate crime victimization: Identity politics or identity risk? Violence and Victims, 21, 323–337.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, H.R. 3685, 110th Cong. (2007).Google Scholar
  8. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2006). Uniform crime reporting program: Hate crime statistics 2005. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved July 7, 2007, from Google Scholar
  9. Felsenthal, K. D. (2005). Socio-spatial experiences of transgender individuals. In Jean Lau Chin (Ed.), The psychology of prejudice and discrimination: Bias based on gender and sexual orientation (Vol. 3, pp. 201–226). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  10. Franklin, K. (2004). Enacting masculinity: Antigay violence and group rape as participatory theater. Sexuality Research & Social Policy: Journal of NSRC, 1(2), 25–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grattet, R., & Jenness, V. (2001). Examining the boundaries of hate crime law: Disabilities and the “dilemma of difference.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 91, 653–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C. 534.Google Scholar
  13. Kenagy, G. P. (2005). Transgender health: Findings from two needs assessment studies in Philadelphia. Health & Social Work, 30, 19–26.Google Scholar
  14. Kuehnle, K., & Sullivan, A. (2003). Gay and lesbian victimization: Reporting factors in domestic violence and bias incidents. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 30, 85–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lawrence, A. A. (2007). Transgender health concerns. In I. H. Meyer & M. E. Northridge (Eds.), The health of sexual minorities: Public health perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations (pp. 473–505). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Lombardi, E. L., Wilchins, R. A., Priesing, D., Esq., & Malouf, D. (2001). Gender violence: Transgender experiences with violence and discrimination. Journal of Homosexuality, 42(1), 89–101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. (2006). 2005 hate crime report. Los Angeles: Author.Google Scholar
  18. Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. (2007). 2006 hate crime report. Los Angeles: Author.Google Scholar
  19. Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007, H.R. 1592, S. 1105, 110th Cong. (2007).Google Scholar
  20. Moran, L. J., & Sharpe, A. N. (2004). Violence, identity and policing: The case of violence against transgender people. Criminal Justice, 4, 395–417.Google Scholar
  21. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (1998). Anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence in 1997: A report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  22. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (2006). Anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence in 2005: A report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  23. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. (2007). Anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence in 2006: A report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  24. Risser, J. M. H., Shelton, A., McCurdy, S., Atkinson, J., Padgett, P., Useche, B., et al. (2005). Sex, drugs, violence, and HIV status among male-to-female transgender persons in Houston, Texas. In W. Bockting & E. Avery (Eds.), Transgender health and HIV prevention: Needs assessment studies from transgender communities across the United States (67–74). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Medical Press.Google Scholar
  25. Rose, S. M., & Mechanic, M. B. (2002). Psychological distress, crime features, and help-seeking behaviors related to homophobic bias incidents. American Behavioral Scientist, 46, 14–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sirin, S. R., McCreary, D. R., & Mahalik, J. R. (2004). Differential reactions to men and women’s gender role transgressions: Perceptions of social status, sexual orientation, and value dissimilarity. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 12, 119–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Smith, G. A. (1998). Remembering our dead. Retrieved January 8, 2007, from Google Scholar
  28. U.S. Census Bureau. (2007). Los Angeles County, California: People quickfacts. Retrieved January 10, 2007, from states/ 06/06037.html Google Scholar
  29. Van Soest, D., & Bryant, S. (1995). Violence reconceptualized for social work: The urban dilemma. Social Work, 40, 549–557.Google Scholar
  30. Whittle, S., Turner, L., & Al-Alami, A. (2007). Engendered penalties: Transgender and transsexual people’s experiences of inequality and discrimination. Retrieved December 18, 2007, from pdf Google Scholar
  31. Wilchins, R. (2006). 50 under 30: Masculinity and the war on America’s youth—A human rights report. Washington, DC: Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.Google Scholar
  32. Witten, T. M. (2003). Transgender again: An emerging population and an emerging need. Review Sexologies, XII(4), 15–20.Google Scholar
  33. Witten, T. M. (2004). Life course analysis—The courage to search for something more: Middle adulthood issues in the transgender and intersex community. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 8 (2/3), 189–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Witten, T. M., & Eyler, A. E. (1999). Hate crimes and violence against the transgendered. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 11, 461–468.Google Scholar
  35. Xavier, J. M. (2000). The Washington Transgender Needs Assessment Survey. Retrieved January 2, 2007, from Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manoa School of Social WorkUniversity of HawaiiHonolulu

Personalised recommendations