Trans-bashing is the act of victimizing a person physically, sexually, or verbally because they are transgender or transsexual. Unlike gay bashing, it is committed because of the target's actual or perceived gender identity, not sexual orientation. The term has also been applied to hate speech directed at transgender people and at depictions of transgender people in the media that reinforce negative stereotypes about them.

Discrimination, including physical or sexual violence against trans people due to transphobia or homophobia, is a common occurrence for trans people. Hate crimes against trans people are common even recently, and "in some instances, inaction by police or other government officials leads to the untimely deaths of transgender victims."

The most famous incident was the December 30, 1993 rape and murder of Brandon Teena, a young transman who was raped and murdered by his male friends after they found out he had female genitalia. The story was captured in the film Boys Don't Cry, which earned Hilary Swank the Academy Award for best actress.

In Seattle's gay village of Capitol Hill, there is some evidence of an increase in incidents of trans-bashing over the past two years.

Differentiating trans-bashing from gay-bashing

At least since the Stonewall riots in 1969, transgender people have often been politically aligned with the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities. However, some transgender activists argue trans-bashing should be categorized separately from violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation ("gay-bashing"). One argument is that conflating violence against trans people with violence against gay people erases the identities of trans people and the truth of what happens to them. However, campaigns against gay-bashing and trans-bashing are often seen as a common cause.

In one case, perpetrators accused of hate crimes against trans people have tried to use a "trans panic" defense (cf. gay panic defense). The jury deadlocked, but there is evidence they rejected the trans-panic defense. One law journal provided an analysis of the trans-panic defense, arguing in part that the emotional premise of a trans panic defense (shock at discovering unexpected genitals) is different than the emotional premise of a gay panic defense (shock at being propositions by a member of the same sex, perhaps because of one's repressed homosexuality).

U.S. hate crime laws covering gender identity

In the United States, currently nine states plus the District of Columbia have hate crime laws protecting people victimized on the basis of their gender identity (they are Hawaii, California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C.).

The Matthew Shepard Act, which has been passed in various forms by both houses of the current United States Congress, would expand the federal hate crime laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation.


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