There were more than 350 incidents of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. harassment, vandalism or assault in the United States from June 2022 through April 2023, according to a new report, reflecting a climate in which bias against gay and especially transgender people has become widespread.
The incidents, which were reported in 46 states and the District of Columbia, included online harassment, gatherings of armed protesters outside drag shows, and bomb threats against hospitals that provide gender transition care. They also included the mass shooting in November at an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub in Colorado.
The report was produced by the Anti-Defamation League and the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group GLAAD, which collected data from news coverage as well as direct reports from victims. As with other attempts to quantify attacks on marginalized groups, the numbers in the report are certain to be undercounts, because many people don’t report their experiences.
By far the most frequent targets noted in the report were drag shows and drag performers, who were the victims in 138 incidents. Other common targets were schools and educators, health care facilities and providers, and government buildings and officials. California, Florida, New York and Texas had the most incidents, but they are also the most populous states.
The report uses similar methodology to what A.D.L. has long used to produce reports about incidents of antisemitism. It is the first time A.D.L. and GLAAD have compiled a report on homophobic and transphobic incidents. Sarah Moore, an analyst of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. extremism for both organizations, said they plan to release new editions annually from now on.
“Hard data like this backs up what so many of us in the L.G.B.T.Q. community are unfortunately experiencing right now,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD. “That revolting anti-gay comment you saw on a neighbor’s social media page, that shocking disinformation about trans youth you heard at a school board meeting, and that attack by extremists at your local Drag Story Hour — these are not isolated events.”
Because this is the first such report, it does not show how the prevalence of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. harassment and violence has changed over time. But there are indications that they are increasing: As of Tuesday, A.D.L. and GLAAD had documented 101 such incidents in the first three weeks of June, which is Pride Month. That is more than twice the number the organizations counted from last June.
An upcoming report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino shows a 52 percent increase in anti-L.G.B.T.Q. hate crimes around the country in 2022 and a 28 percent increase in the narrower anti-transgender category, according to the center’s director, Prof. Brian Levin.
It also shows a 47 percent increase in hate crimes against gender-nonconforming people, which the report defines as including drag performers.
That report looks only at incidents in major cities and focuses specifically on hate crimes. By contrast, not all of the incidents in the A.D.L. and GLAAD report would be classified as crimes.
Nearly half of the incidents in the report from A.D.L. and GLAAD involved perpetrators associated with extremist groups, such as the Proud Boys or neo-Nazi organizations. And the report found significant overlap with other forms of bias: Of the 356 anti-L.G.B.T.Q. incidents it counted, antisemitism was also a factor in 128, and racism in 30.
But Ms. Moore said it was also striking that half of the incidents were unconnected to extremist groups. That finding, she said, reflects the degree to which anti-L.G.B.T.Q. sentiment is “being mainstreamed in society and being picked up on by local church groups, local parents’ rights groups, whatever might be the local grass-roots movement for the Republican Party.”
Historical data indicates that increases in hate crimes are closely related to increases in hateful rhetoric from politicians and other influential figures, Professor Levin said, adding that he was very concerned about the current trend.
This year, Republican lawmakers have passed dozens of bills to ban transition care for minors and in some cases restrict it for adults; limit transgender people’s participation in competitive sports and which bathrooms they can use; restrict drag shows; prevent schools from acknowledging transgender students’ identities; and more.
Politicians and activists also now regularly and baselessly accuse transgender people of pedophilia and “grooming,” resurrecting a campaign that was used against gay people for decades. That was the most commonly cited trope in the documented incidents of harassment and assault.
“It’s going to continue,” Professor Levin said, “as long as this kind of bigotry is normalized and mainstreamed.”
Maggie Astor is a reporter covering live news and U.S. politics. She has also reported on climate, the coronavirus and disinformation. @MaggieAstor
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