Truth In Numbers, Hate Crimes Statistics

From a recent report out of UCLA entitled: Comparison of Hate Crimes Rates Across Protected and Unprotected Groups ( by Rebecca Stotzer, Public Policy Research Fellow at the Williams Institute)

Current proposed legislation would change certain existing federal hate crime laws to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. Sexual orientation and gender identity are important categories for inclusion in federal law because members of these groups are just as likely to be victimized as members of other groups that are already covered, such as those based on race, religion, or national origin. A close analysis of hate crime rates demonstrates that groups that are already covered by hate crime laws, such as African Americans, Muslims, and Jews, report similar rates of hate crime victimization as lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, who are not currently federally protected. On average:

• 8 in 100,000 African Americans report being the victim of hate crime
• 12 in 100,000 Muslims report being the victim of hate crime
• 15 in 100,000 Jews report the victim of hate crime
• 13 in 100,000 gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals report being the victim of hate crime

Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin has written about how:

“Many anti-gay activists point to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics to claim that gays and lesbians are not “oppressed” compared to anybody else. ”

He discusses the glaring faults in the collection process. But what is enlightening about this new report is found when you look beyond the raw numbers:

The FBI’s raw counts of hate crimes do not take into account the size of the populations covered. For example, racial and ethnic minorities account for about 30% of the total population of the United States, but the estimated population that identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual is only about 4%. Therefore, calculating proportional rates of possible victimization provides another important perspective for comparing hate crimes across groups.

And of the transgender population:

“Despite issues of underreporting from law enforcement agencies, some additional data suggest that hate crimes against transgender people are a significant problem. Community organizations and other interested groups have been tracking hate crimes against transgender people for several years. In particular, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) includes transgender people in their collection of hate crime data against sexual minorities. When examining reports on 14 major cities, 5 states, and one multi-state region since 1997, the NCAVP reports an average of 213 hate crimes per year against transgender people. In 2004, the NCAVP reported the highest number of hate crimes against transgender people: 321 hate crimes. Nationally, this level of violence is comparable to the level of violence perpetrated against Muslims since 2002. Thus, the inclusion of gender identity in the categories reported in the Uniform Crime Reports and in the new National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) system would allow for more tracking of this serious problem.”

Because transgender people aren’t even included in the collection of hate crimes of statistics, collection of data is fuzzy at best. But even with the fuzzy numbers, comparing the hate crimes with Muslims and trangender people is very telling. Since 9/11 many Americans see Muslim Americans as terrorists. It makes you wonder what the numbers would look like if the collection of data on transgender people were obtained in the same way as it is with race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.