More about Transgender Murder Statistics

I love America because, as we used to say when I was a kid, "it's a free country." We are free to live our lives as we choose--as long as what we choose doesn't harm other people. We also are free to think what we wish. There are no "thought police" yet. We are free to express our opinions (within limits).

Statistics aren't opinions, though. Statistics are the mathematical analyses of data. And data are facts. When we cite statistics to support our opinions, we should do so responsibly--making every effort to be sure the data we cite are real and the statistics based on those data are properly calculated.

In academic writing (as opposed to blogging and journalism) we are required (by peer reviewers) to cite our sources specifically and accurately. It is improper to refer to vague, general "recent studies" or "one source." Journalists can claim to have confidential sources, I suppose, but it really doesn't seem right to me to have confidential statistical sources.

I can't find any "recent study" that says that "1 in 12 transgender persons is murdered." I can find a transgender activist who has made an honest effort to collect transgender murder statistics, but even she admits that data are hard to come by because there is really no way to know how many transgender persons there are or to identify all murder victims who are transgender. A Florida woman named LeAnna Bradley and an organization called Stop Hate Now cite 321 such murders worldwide between 1970 and 2004 (34 years).

On the other hand, someone has claimed that Kay Brown, instructor for “20th Century Transgender History and Experience” at the Harvey Milk Institute in San Francisco, Washington Blade, Dec. 10, 1999, is the source of the "1 in 12" statistic. But if you Google the Brown article, you can't find any such statistic in the article (at least I couldn't).

Let's think about this a minute. What is the value of inventing or inflating statistics about a very highly-emotionally-charged issue? Frankly, it fans the flames of irrationality. No one benefits from this.


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  • 5/10/2009 9:36 AM Daran wrote:
    Thanks for linking to my blog.

    The "someone" who "claimed that kay brown ... is the source" was Human Rights Campaign I merely quoted them. This strongly suggests that the citation was to a class given by her, not to the document by the same name written by her. This article also attributes to her, data consistent with the 1 in 12 estimate. I think it likely that she is the source of the claim, or if not, then it was based upon her data. You may need to contact her make further progress.

    I wish this were true:

    In academic writing (as opposed to blogging and journalism) we are required (by peer reviewers) to cite our sources specifically and accurately.

    Unfortunately my experience is that even academic writing can be a load of baloney. In this post I examined one section of a published scholarly paper (I don't know whether it was supposed to be peer-reviewed) and concluded that "although I have only looked up a tiny fraction of the references ... it is noticeable that every single one of her claims which I have been able to check, is either unsupported empirically, or misrepresents her sources."
  • 11/16/2010 10:26 AM Joann Prinzivalli wrote:
    Let's see if I can provide a statistical estimate:

    Last year (11/20/2008-11/20/2009), the worldwidecompilation of transgender murders from the two lists I have as sources, the American list maintained by Ethan St. Pierre, and the morecomprehensive worldwide list maintained by TGEU, there were 166 reported murders of transgender individuals.

    Estimates of the transgender population range from 1/10,000 (MTF) to 1/30,000 (FTM) - let's estimate 1/17.000 overall.

    6 billion people in the world - That gives us around 350,000 trans people worldwide.

    Reported murders may be only the tip of the iceberg - one rule of thumb is to use 10% - making the 2009 TDOR statistic the equivalent of possibly 1,660 murders in one year. This results in an annual murder statistic of about 0.44%. If we estimate that 20% of worldwide murders are actually reported, it's more like 0.22% per year.

    Life span for trans individuals skews short. Let's estimate 50 years. If 1/500 is killed each year, thatcomes out to about 1 in 10 that can expect to be murdered during their lifetime.

    Obviously, with the exception of the one datum of the 166 reported murders for the period (this year will also have more than 160, but the final numbers will be reported by TGEU on 11/19), it's all fuzzy data based on estimates and assumptions - but it's not terribly unrealistic. I am sure that there are people who can make a more reliable estimate - and if that 1 in 12 figure is stated as "an estimated" 1 in 12, it may not be accurate but it's somewhere in the ballpark.
    1. 11/17/2010 7:54 AM The Hanged Juror wrote:
      One flaw in your logic is assuming that the population of transgenders is evenly distributed in the world. Some cultures, such as the Chinese (a very large part of the world population) do not tolerate transgenders, and as a consequence even if a person believes himself or herself to be burdened with the wrong set of genitalia, he or she could never come out of the closet. Since your premise is that straight people hate transgenders and therefore tend to murder them more frequently than other types of people, in China at least the hatred would go to waste. The straights wouldn't know who was transgender and who was not.

      I also can't fathom why you're so adamant that transenders are such a hated group that they attract killers. Presumably you also think their killers are hateful straights. What do you hope to change by convincing me that transgenders are endangered?
      It seems to me that the most dangerous person in a transgender's life is his or her sexual partner, especially if you're using the Andrade case as an example. This would make sense. After all, a lot of people think that the leading cause of death among pregnant women is murder (by their partner). This, of course, isn't true, either. What is true is that most murders of all sorts are committed by someone the victim knows. 

      So, it follows that trangenders must also be murdered by people they know more often than not. And if transgenders are actually murdered more often than other people (straight or not), then it's likely they are choosing their acquaintances poorly.

      I can't say I have no complaints against transgenders, because I do feel that women who are born as men and then choose to modify their bodies have advantages over women who are born with women's bodies. Tennis player Rene Richards is an example. In fact anyone raised with the privileges of a male who then grows up to compete against women who did not have that advantage are, in my opinion, exploiting our misogynist society.

      On the other hand, I have no interest in anybody's sexual practices but my own. Everyone should be entitled to privacy.

      I just can't understand why this issue is even controversial. I think there must be a deep psychological reason for this obsession with transgenders and murder. I'd like to hear what a psychologist has to say about it.
      1. 11/17/2010 8:40 AM Joann Prinzivalli wrote:
        Regarding China, there is a citationless Wikipedia entry on the subject of "transgender in China" at

        googling: transsexual china
        This results in many hits.

        Trans people as hated group: One can check Right Wing Watch to find numerous U.S. based organizations that advocate against transgender people. In Iran, even though there is popular anti-trans sentiment, because of a fatwa by the Ayatollah Khomenei, GRS is provided by the government(unfortunately, they also perform the same surgery on gays to make them straight, as an alternative to being stoned to death in a stadium, so Iran does not exactly get brownie points).

        Trans murderscome in several types. A good number are acquaintance murders. Others are murders of sex workers. Some, such as Latiesha Green's 2009 murder in Syracuse, New York, can be attributed to anti-gay, anti-trans bigotry.

        One more thought on acquaintance murders - some occur when acquaintances discover that the individual is trans. (The popular conception is that they are enraged about being "deceived." But being trans is not a deception).

        Sports: Jeannie Longo has long dominated women's bicycle racing, and she is not trans. A number of sports organizations have developed criteria for allowing trans women tocompete as women, based on the assessment that after a couple of years post surgery and on HRT, muscle mass, etc. is within the female range.

        The designation of sex is not exactly the easiest thing, even though the simple visual examination of a newborn's external genitalia results in a correct designation more than 99% of the time. When someone falls in the gray area, whether they are genitally intersex, or have an intersex brain development, the designation requires assessment of factors other than birth genital shape or the shape of the 23rd chromosome pair. Sports organizations do take this seriously. If you have an issue with trans women in women's sports, where do you draw the line? Caster Semenya, who is genitally intersex? Maybe any woman who is "too good" - like Jeannie Longo - should be banned?

        Obsession: what is the first question people ask when a baby is born? That;s right, "Is it a boy or a girl?"
        1. 11/18/2010 6:06 AM The Hanged Juror wrote:
          Obession? What should "they" ask? "Is it human?"

          Thank you for your interest in my blog and your input. But I believe that this issue (ie, transgenders as the target of more hate and victims of more murderers) than other groups or individuals is phony. I'm sorry, but I don't believe it. I'm convinced that Jews, Rawandans, Christian Sudanese, Croatians, etc. have been slaughtered in far greater numbers and in far greater percentages of the world population than transgenders in the West, especially in America.

          My interest is in the U.S. criminal court system and juries. So I'm shutting off comments on this thread.

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