HRC: House Judiciary Committee Right to Advance VAWA Without Anti-Transgender Amendments

Today, HRC applauded pro-equality members of the House Judiciary Committee for voting down last-minute, harmful, and unnecessary amendments to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that would have stripped protections of transgender people from violence and given organizations and individuals a license to discriminate against the transgender community.

“It’s shocking that in 2019, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee would use a bill designed to address violence against women as a vehicle to launch a coordinated attack on the LGBTQ community,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Protecting people from violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue. These amendments ignore medical expertise and defy common sense. The reality is that trans people are disproportionately victims of violent crime, and they need to be able to access appropriate services. Leaders of hundreds of sexual violence and domestic violence organizations agree that transgender women victims being served alongside other women is appropriate and not a safety issue. We are grateful that pro-equality members of the Judiciary Committee voted down these discriminatory amendments.”

Despite today’s anti-trans efforts by Republican members, protections against violence for the transgender community in prison and other spaces has a considerable bipartisan history. In 2003, President Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which provided for the development of basic federal protections for the care of transgender people in prison. After six years of study, the Department of Justice adopted regulations fully implementing these protections in 2012. The National PREA Resource Center developed an FAQ on the implementation of these standards, which have made clear that searches of transgender people who are incarcerated should be based on their gender identity and reflect that transgender prisoners are more than nine times more likely to be targeted for sexual abuse or assault.

Last year, HRC called out the Trump-Pence White House’s blatantly undermining Obama-era protections for transgender prisoners when they ordered the Bureau of Prisons to use “biological sex” in determining how transgender prisoners are assigned housing, putting them at significant risk of sexual abuse, assault, and other types of discrimination.

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