Jeff Sessions says DOJ will review trend of anti-transgender violence

Jeff Sessions says DOJ will review trend of anti-transgender violence
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pictured in his office at the Justice Department June 29.
Source: Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pictured in his office at the Justice Department June 29.
Source: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the FBI and Justice Department are reviewing the rise in murders of transgender victims, USA Today reported on Thursday. But advocates are reacting cautiously to the news that federal authorities are considering intervening in the investigations of the killings.

“I specifically directed that the files of these cases be reviewed to ensure that there is no single person or group behind these murders or to what extent hate crime motivation lies behind such murders,” Sessions said on Thursday, speaking at a national conference on hate crimes.

Demonstrators rally for transgender rights with a candlelight vigil to remember transgender friends lost to murder and suicide on March 3 in Chicago.
Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Advocates say they’re concerned that Sessions might co-opt the crisis of anti-trans violence for a different agenda.

“We won’t allow Jeff Sessions to use the violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people, and particularly the homicides of transgender women of color, to push forward a pro-policing agenda that does not acknowledge, recognize, or protect LGBTQ people of color who are victims of police violence and brutality,” Emily Waters, senior manager of national research and policy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said in an email to Mic on Friday.

On Sunday, 17-year-old Ava Le’Ray Barrin was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia — the 14th reported killing of a trans woman of color so far this year.

Hundreds protest against a Trump administration announcement that rescinded an Obama-era order, which allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on Feb. 23 in New York City.
Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Between 2010 and 2016, at least 111 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were killed in the U.S. because of their gender identities. And the number of reported murders of transgender victims is on the rise: According to GLAAD, 2016 was the deadliest year on record for trans people, overtaking the year before it.

Sessions’ acknowledgment of the violence directed at transgender people was reportedly prompted by a letter sent by six Democratic officials in March, calling on the Justice Department to take action.

In an email on Friday, Human Rights Campaign Senior Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof told Mic that calling for a review of transgender killings is “the bare minimum” that Sessions can do.

“After building a career full of hostility towards LGBTQ people, Jeff Sessions now says he wants to protect transgender people from discrimination and violence,” Winterhof said.

“If he is serious, he must order the DOJ to enhance its efforts to investigate, prosecute and deter the violent hate crimes perpetrated against transgender people — especially transgender women of color.”

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Democratic brand, WH Communications Director, Jared Kushner to be questioned

Here are the important stories to know for Monday, July 24

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 9 dead, 29 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Democratic brand, WH Communications Director, Jared Kushner to be questioned

Here are the important stories to know for Monday, July 24

New White House communications director Scaramucci says press briefings should be on-camera

If the new White House communications director gets his way, the press briefings could soon be recorded once again.

At least 9 dead, 29 injured in locked tractor trailer outside Walmart in Texas

Authorities told press that the deaths were caused by "a human trafficking crime."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.