Reports of anti-transgender hate crimes have surged by more than a third in the past 12 months.
Annual figures released by the government on Tuesday (October 16) show a surge in all categories of hate crime reports in England and Wales.
Officials say that much of the overall trend can be explained by improvements to the system of reporting. However, the data indicates a 32.1 percentage surge in anti-transgender hate crime that outstrips the percentage increase for other categories, with the exception of religious hate crimes, which rose by 40.12 percent.
There were 1,651 reports of anti-transgender hate crime in the past year, up from 1,248 in 2017. The data also showed that anti-trans hate crimes are more likely to be violent offences than for any other hate crime category. Six percent of anti-trans hate crimes were for online offences, a higher proportion than for any other category.
As for the most commonly reported hate crimes category, sexual orientation hate crimes rose by 27.1 percent over the past year, from 9,157 included in the 2017 data to 11,638 counted in the most recent report.
Race-related hate crimes, which amount for more than half of the overall hate crime incidents recorded (71,251), rose by 13.7 percent year-on-year.
LGBT+ rights groups told PinkNews the figures are concerning. A spokesperson for transgender non-profit Gendered Intelligence said: “It is extremely alarming to learn that anti-transgender hate crime has increased by almost a third since last year, and almost doubled since 2015-16.
“We feel that over the past year the mainstream media has contributed to a hostile environment for trans people, and trans women in particular, that may have emboldened those who have committed these crimes.
“Taking into account the huge number of race- and religion-related hate crime incidents, trans people of colour are particularly at risk.”
LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop called for solidarity with hate crime victims: “These figures show a concerning shift over the past few years,” Nick Antjoule, head of hate crime services, said in a statement.
“Now is the time for our community to stand in solidarity with victims and against hatred,” Antjoule added: “If you see or experience anti-LGBT abuse or violence, we encourage you to tell the police and get support from a charity like Galop.”
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Laura Russell, Head of Policy at Stonewall, called the statistics “the tip of the iceberg” in a statement: “From our research into hate crime, we know under-reporting is still a major issue with four in five anti-LGBT hate crimes and incidents going unreported, with younger LGBT people particularly reluctant to go to the police.”
The rise in anti-trans hate crimes comes after a difficult year for transgender people, with a government consultation on gender recognition laws fuelling activists seeking to oppose trans rights.
Campaigners and MPs have criticised British newspapers for stoking an anti-transgender “moral panic” with a steady stream of critical stories.
Speaking to PinkNews, Minister for Countering Extremism, Baroness Williams of Trafford said: “Hate crimes can have a profound impact on the victim and their families. Those who commit such heinous attacks should feel the full force of the law.
“That is why our refreshed Action Plan puts the victim first and establishes how the criminal justice response will continue to improve to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report an incident.
“We will continue to work closely with partners such as Galop, who provide invaluable support for the LGBT+ community and are working to enhance online reporting of incidents.”
Stonewall welcomed the government’s initiative. Russell said: “It’s enormously encouraging the Government is committed to reviewing hate crime laws. Currently, crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and disability are not treated equally to those based on race and faith. This has to change.
“We’re also pleased to see plans to develop police force training so officers are better able to ensure hate crimes, including those based on anti-LGBT views, are handled sensitively and are also properly recorded and monitored. This will help improve the confidence in the way the criminal justice system deals with LGBT hate crime.”