The FBI has announced that it is investigating the 2016 murder of a transgender woman.
The killing is believed to be one of many anti-transgender homicides happening in the country. Two trans people were murdered this year already.
The perpetrator of this murder — if it is determined that he was a perpetrator — will most likely be charged under the hate crime statutes of U.S. federal law that criminalize targeted violence against minorities. However, this is a common pattern where the perpetrator is a victim of hate crimes.
In this case, the victim was Rachel Ainsworth, 25, who was a transgender woman. According to local reports, she was one of the “Anonymous” girls who hang out near a bar located near her home in Lakeland, Florida. It is also believed that she was homeless.
It is believed that the shooter may have targeted her because of her sexual identity.
The Washington Post noted that, as of March 2015, the FBI is very active in investigating transgender homicide cases across the country, with the exception of Florida, but that, in 2016, they interviewed more than 95 transgender victims across the country. The FBI maintains a real-time database and list of trans homicides with their own set of classifications for such crimes. Their list further states that it is devoted to providing various types of victims who are impacted by violence.
Federal hate crime laws allow victims to seek compensation for their damages while putting perpetrators behind bars. Before 2015, the gay civil rights laws provided for financial compensation while the anti-transgender laws were an exemption.
In 2012, transgender victims of gender identity crimes had to obtain an order of protection in order to receive damages. It was then made possible to pursue the criminals with physical lawsuits as well. A new legal rule was then introduced that allowed a person to sue a person or a company for damages, even if it was being pursued as an overcharge.
Experts see this latest act of violence as part of a bigger trend of anti-transgender discrimination and violence, going back years.
One thing to note is that anti-transgender crimes, which is to say crimes against trans people generally, disproportionately affect lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people (LGBT) who live in urban areas.
In June, the lesbian rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, released a report on hate crime statistics in the United States for the year 2016, finding that trans people were twice as likely to be victims of such crimes. They were also four times more likely to be the victims of crimes inspired by the concept of gender role expectations.
It was stated that the area where trans people of color were most likely to experience hate crimes was the South where 19 percent of LGBTs were from non-white backgrounds. More specifically, 60 percent of people who were transgender black, 38 percent were trans Hispanic, and 14 percent were trans black. Similarly, the overall report found that Texas (17 percent), Mississippi (16 percent), and Florida (16 percent) were in the top five locations where the second most trans people were from.
The report also noted that there were a total of 6,636 hate crime incidents in the United States in 2016. The report found that there were 5,530 of the cases in which the victims were LGBT, while the remaining 300 cases were in which there were anti-LGBT hate crimes.