Progressive activists and media cynically exploit a fake ‘epidemic’ of anti-transgender murders for partisan advantage

Activists want to use the tragic emotion involved in these murders and the macabre specter of an anti-trans murder wave to shut down debate on a whole host of issues. 

Did you know that there’s an “epidemic of violence” and murder against transgender people in the US that’s happening because you think sports should be sex-segregated?

At least, that’s the latest story coming out of far-left activist groups and being uncritically parroted by mainstream media outlets. But the reality is far more complicated than this cynical partisan narrative.

The spin stems from a new report by the Human Rights Campaign, a Democratic Party activist group that falsely purports to be an LGBT rights organization. The report, titled “An Epidemic of Violence 2022: Fatal Violence Against Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People in the United States in 2022,” documents the unquestionably tragic deaths of 32 Americans. But it goes further than that, making the claim that the US is experiencing a unique epidemic of anti-trans murders and tying culpability for these murders to a wide variety of common political, partisan issues.

Fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people is the tragic result of a society that devalues our lives,” remarked Human Rights Campaign senior vice president Jay Brown.

Brown went on to directly pin some of the blame for the murders documented in the report on specific political/policy issues such as segregating sports by birth sex, allowing free speech—including “anti-trans” speech— on social media, and “transphobic” media coverage. 

Brown goes so far as to say that those who advocate for these political positions “send a message that trans lives aren’t valuable” and “put our community and our allies at serious risk.”

The 32 murders documented in the report were “killed in an epidemic of violence threatening our community,” according to HRC’s Tori Cooper.

This narrative was uncritically parroted by mainstream media outlets like Axios and ABC News

But it’s deeply flawed. 

For one, it’s not at all clear that these murders actually constitute an “epidemic” of anti-trans hate crimes—or that the trans murder rate is even higher than the average murder rate in general.  And secondly, the attempt to tie these murders to a whole host of unrelated partisan policy issues is deeply cynical and unfair. 

We should start with some unequivocal disclaimers. Any murder is a tragedy, and a transgender American’s life is every bit as valuable as anyone else’s. My heart goes out to them and their families. But the statistics simply do not support the idea that they’re being murdered more regularly than everyone else.

The general US murder rate was 6 per 100,000 in 2021. The HRC’s reported total of 32 transgender and gender-nonconforming people killed in 2022 is relative to an estimated transgender population of 1.6 million*. That comes out to about 2 per 100,000. 

So, even assuming that more tragic murders will, unfortunately, occur in the last few months of 2022, it seems that the murder rate for transgender people in 2022 will actually be at most 3-4 per 100,000, thus below the overall average/typical murder rate. That’s a good thing! But it also eviscerates the idea that there’s an “epidemic” of anti-trans murder in the US. 

What’s more, there have been about 16,729 homicides so far in 2022. At 32, transgender people would constitute about .002% of that figure. Yet they are about 0.5% of the US adult population. So, they are disproportionately less likely to be victims of homicide. Once again: that’s a good thing. But it further undercuts the idea that we’re living through an epidemic of anti-trans killings.

Don’t forget that the 32 murders counted are not all anti-trans hate crimes. In fact, the majority of documented murders do not involve cases where the person was specifically targeted or killed for being transgender. They count any case where a transgender person was murdered, regardless of circumstance or manner. 

So why is the mainstream media spreading panic about an epidemic of transgender people being murdered that—thank god—does not actually exist? The answer is unfortunately as simple as it is cynical: They want to use the tragic emotion involved in these murders and the macabre specter of an anti-trans murder wave to shut down debate on a whole host of issues. 

Don’t forget that they literally tied these murders to the question of whether transgender athletes who were born biologically male should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. The public largely recognizes the inherent sex differences between males and females that make the inclusion of trans athletes (like controversial collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas) unfair, and the science is not on the side of progressives in this debate. And, even if it were the case that the conservative position on this issue was wrong, it’s still a huge stretch to tie it to individual murders and claim a casual relationship. 

None of that matters to the activists and reporters pushing their narrative. They evidently hope to simply shut down the debate and cow us into submission with heart-breaking rhetoric about anti-trans murders. My heart breaks for the victims of any murder, but I, for one, won’t go along with this farce.

While every murder is a tragedy, the Left’s collective attempt to push a deceptive narrative of an anti-trans murder epidemic is deeply cynical and not rooted in reality. Americans should be wise to the reality of what’s happening—and not fall for emotional manipulation intended to stifle debate.


*(This denominator should actually be even larger if it included non-binary people, so the real number is probably even bigger and the resulting murder rate even smaller).

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.