Anti-Transgender Violence: How Hate-Crime Laws Have Failed

By Victoria Law

, by Truthout

On the morning of June 5, 2011, a 23-year-old African-American transgender woman, Chrishaun McDonald, and her friends were walking down Lake Street in Minneapolis. As they passed Schooner Tavern, Dean Schmitz, a 47-year-old white man, began shouting racial slurs at McDonald, asking, "Did you think you were going to rape somebody in those girl clothes?" Schmitz and two other bar patrons then attacked McDonald.

During the attack, glass was smashed into McDonald’s face and Schmitz was killed. McDonald was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The details of what happened are still not clear. However, considering the widespread discrimination, harassment and violence that transgender people face every day in the United States, McDonald and her friends had ample reason to fear that Schmitz’s attack could lead to serious injury, if not death. A recent report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 50 percent of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) murders in 2009 and 44 percent of LGBT murders in 2010 were of transgender women. This year, does not seem to be a safer year for transgender people either.

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