One in Twelve

One in twelve trans people is murdered in their lifetime–one in eight trans women of color.

You’ve heard this statistic, right?  It comes up in just about any argument in which trans people want to talk about their experience of oppression.  It’s a horrifying statistic.

It’s also completely, demonstrably untrue–and its propagation has pernicious racist, sexist, and classist effects.  Strap yourselves in, kiddos, ’cause we’re going on a ride to Statisticsville, population YOU.

According to the best estimates available from trans* sources about the prevalence of transgenderism in the United States, approximately .3 percent of Americans identify as transgender.  That gives us a figure of just barely under a million trans people out of the 313 million folks living in the U.S. today.  Now, out of that number, some percentage of these people will be out.  Some of them are still babies, so they’re only going to come out later.  Some of them may never come out due to oppression, so let’s say that of this million, only half of them ever actually show that they’re trans in a way that would potentially lead to a hate crime.

That’d leave us with half a million trans people who would be out enough for trans hatred to manifest in terrible ways.  For the 1 in 12 statistic to be accurate, 41,667 of that half million would be murdered.  If the full million were out, the number is, of course, twice that high–83,333.

Now, we do have statistics about how many trans people have actually been murdered, but under-reporting is a concern.  The National Transgender Day of Remembrance has documented just 15 cases of trans people being murdered in the United States last year.  However, many people believe that most of the murders of transgender people may be misreported as violence against gay or lesbian people.  According to our best statistics, 30 people were murdered because of their sexual orientation or identity last year.

Now, let’s assume that every one of those murders was of a trans person, and that furthermore, the actual rate is double due to underreporting–that sixty trans people are killed every year, just for being trans, out of the 500,000 out trans people in the United States.  That’s an annual rate of 12 per 100,000.  Even using these statistics that have been weighted heavily toward indicating a higher murder rate, it would take an out trans lifespan of about 700 years for the 1 in 12 rate to be true.  We’re talking about an exaggeration of the statistics that, in the very least, represents trans activists and their allies blindly quoting a statistic that is overestimating the actual murder rate by ten times.  Even with the most generous readings possible of available statistics, the maximum chance a trans person has of being murdered in the United States is less than 1 in 100.

To put it another way, let’s assume that every out trans person has an average of 65 years in which they are out enough to risk violence for their identity (which is, again, weighted in favor of the trans* people and their allies–if we assumed a significantly shorter out time, the rate would need to be significantly higher per year).  This would require that in an average of 641 murders of trans people would have to occur–that in fact, in a year like 2011, in which 12,664 murders occurred according to the FBI, one in every 19 murders would be of a trans person.

Let’s talk about another group in America: black males.  Black males in the United States have a lifespan of 70.8 years.  Recent crime statistics show that nearly half of murder victims–5416 in 2011–were black males.  With around 19 million black males in the United States, this means that 1 in 3500 black males in the United States will be murdered this year alone, if we stay on par with 2011.  Over a lifespan of 70.8 years, this would mean that black males born today, assuming murder numbers and population stayed constant, have a…carry the 1…let’s see here.

Oh yes, about a 1 in 49 chance of being murdered in the United States.  Over twice the rate that trans people are murdered.

When trans activists claim that they’re being murdered at a rate of 1 in 12, they’re trying to claim the gold medal in the Oppression Olympics just by making up their own statistics.  In so doing, they’re leapfrogging their own oppression over groups of people whose murder rates are actually substantially higher than theirs.  For example, black women, while not murdered at the same rates as black men, are still significantly more likely to be murdered in their lifetimes than trans women.  Prostitutes, as a class, are significantly more likely to be murdered than trans women, when we’re using statistics that have any basis in reality.

But by using this 1 in 12 figure, what trans activists do is proclaim that they are being oppressed all out of proportion with other groups.  It’s a statistic meant to be alarming, meant to make people think that trans oppression is especially bad, that it is much, much worse than oppression of many other oppressed classes.  These made-up statistics, so easily debunked, should be something people are ashamed to repeat–except that they’re not.  You can see this statistic all over the internet, and every time it’s used, remind yourself that you’re seeing activists exploiting murders and making up hundreds of crimes that never happened just so that they can have immediate attention paid to their oppression, rather than the oppression of others being murdered at higher actual rates.

24 thoughts on “One in Twelve

  1. So in other words they are manipulative and make up stuff, in the vernacular–liars. No big revelation, but wonderful to see it spelled out. Yet it needs to be said over and over and over until people realize they are being played. I am sending a link to this to about 20 state representatives in 6 states. Without fraudulent claims of the need for protection they don’t have a leg to stand on by which they can continue to threaten women or take over women’s’ spaces. I imagine that it might get worse before it gets better but it is getting clearer and clearer they may have shot their wad and certainly no academic or professional with a reputation or integrity will continue to support the use of phony statistics. In fact I am also sending a link of this to several academics so Queer Studies can’t foster this nonsense. And I will try to do my small part (as you have done such a big one) to get this spread as far and wide as possible. And once one thing is questioned it does not take long for the other ducks to be checked.

    For now they continue to shamelessly bully, threaten attack and oppress the real victims. And each time they do so it demonstrates that the “trans” could not care less as longs as they get people to believe their sad sad story so they get pity which when given in turn it just allows them to oppress and harm women, mock the deaths of people of color. Mighty arrogant these fetishistic cross dressers, and mighty dangerous. A rather interesting statistic is how many trans have murdered and raped women and children–many more than 15 victims. In fact the number of sexually violent crimes committed by these guys is staggering–like 70% of people that identify in prison as “trans.” Rather soon it will be common knowledge that these are just porn soaked men and their fetish is not going to be a human rights issue. Especially as they violate others human rights so frequently with threats, bullying and violence.

    1. Someone send this to Pharyngula, where the blog owner presides over a circle jerk celebration of trans and mra women-hate.

      1. And, apparently fearless about staking his scientific reputation on it (tenured, because Male) announces that trans*Women*are way more oppressed that actual women.

    2. Manipulative liars are words that could be used to describe pretty much any activist group, easily including feminist and gay right activists, domestic violence advocates, etc. Spreading favorable propoganda of dubious origin is just part of what “activism” is- for any cause there will be ethically lax members that spread false claims and intellectually lax members that propagate them without checking their sources.

      This blog generally does a pretty good job of making skeptical, evidence based arguments without crossing the line into hatred and bigotry towards people who id as trans. It’s a shame that some commenters have difficulty holding themselves to that high standard.

      1. I call ’em as I see ’em. I do not agree that all groups that do activism lie. I can say most assuredly they don’t as I am a member of two. We check our facts and update them all the time–because truth matters to some people and stats change. Some feminist academic got caught in lie like 20 years ago and it has not happened since. Really, I do not know how old you are but not all groups lie. You seem not to know the meaning of bigot, as I suspect it is a term you throw out often–everyone who does not agree with you a bigot and then you are a really good person. I know the formula. A good part of hatred and bigotry is imagining you can lie at others expense–and trivialize them and make their death meaningless because you believe they are meaningless compared to you. That, my friend is real bigotry–cynical, manipulative and male. It is not me calling a liar a liar–that is a statement of fact. Bigotry is the guiding premise of the trans movement . Is it any news that trans is misogynistic? No not really. I think as the extent of the movements lies come out, and become more widely known they will either be seen as egregious liar or delusional, maybe both–either way does not add to the credibility factor. This is actually good for activism in general because it is a form of self policing and gains respect. Showing honesty at play is the buzz, the bomb up at the U I teach at. The students learned–fact check and don’t be a mindless fool. I can tell you not one of them is going to buy–the most oppressed ever again.

  2. One seldom hears, when this 1 in 12 business comes up, any discussion of WHO is doing the murdering, which certainly does occur, even if on nothing like the scale claimed.

    Well, let’s see, overwhelmingly it is men murdering trans people, just as it is overwhelmingly men murdering women and men murdering each other.

    But from the rhetoric one hears from trans activists, one would suppose it is women, specifically radical women as a class, who are killing all the transfolk, and who are thus supposed to pay for it as a class (by, I don’t know, accepting people with penises as women and, I guess, having sex with them if required, cos that will certainly make all those murders better… somehow).

    Now I seem to remember something back in the day about naming your oppression… accurately.

  3. I spent four years working at a women’s shelter and was there when they made the transition to accepting mtfs. The residents were generally fine with it (surprisingly so given their histories of rape etc) and those who were uncomfortable were changed rooms so they didn’t have to share with the few mtfs we got. A few months after the policy was in place and after accepting exactly two mtfs we had the first sexual assault in the 20-year history of the shelter. One of the trans women assaulted the other one.

  4. Does anyone know where the 1 in 12 number came from? I’m wondering what that claim was based on. I know someone COULD have pulled it out of thin air, but that seems unlikely, more likely that a real number somewhere was manipulated.

    1. I just recently went to look up prevalence rates of trans, and got an answer of 1 in 3000 that undergo surgery, and some quote even as low as 1 in 30000. The higher bound would yield 0.03% which of you take the above statistics moves them an order of magnitude, so one would be looking at 70 years to hit 1 in 12.

      Statistics on trans violence is difficult to accurately assess because the FBI isn’t (or wasn’t as of a few years ago) allowed to collect them…

      So, finding good statistics on trans violence is hard.

      1. Also, 1 in 30,000 wouldn’t even pass the sniff test.

        For instance, it’d mean Miami had about 12 trans people. In the whole city. The city I grew up in would have about four.

        The one in 12 statistic HAS NO SOURCE. It was MADE UP. it was made up to score political points. That’s not acceptable–these are people’s lives being discussed, and there are people in this country who are far more vulnerable to human rights abuses than the white MTF activists who do the vast majority of the “one in twelve” hand-wringing.

  5. Thanks for making this post. I keep seeing this 1 in 12 number come up all the time and I’ve been linking this post to people who make that false claim. I’m not sure where the number came from, but a lot of people just seem to be mindlessly repeating it.

    Some idiotic twit tried to pick a fight with me and used this statistic. I linked her to this website and her only response was “you’re trans-misogynistic”. Yeah okay, forgot it’s only misogyny when it happens to males who are harassingwomen and that lying was a moral value.

    1. What an interesting question! Well, okay, let’s see, this is easy to calculate.

      .3 percent prevalence, 8 billion people total=24,000,000 trans people=2000000 murders expected.

      Every year, around half a million murders take place total around the world, according to the wikipedia article on “murder”. Given the average duration of transition for the average trans person currently, this should answer your question about whether it’s remotely plausible (answer; no, it’s just made up, even in Brazil, where trans murder rates are highest, they are not 1 in 12).

  6. Actually, I’m not sure how they could say that trans murders are undercounted. Any clothing more typical of the opposite sex, any body modifications, etc. would quickly become evident in an autopsy. By contrast, there may not be any identifiable markers saying a murder victim is lesbian or gay. And even if there are, authorities are reluctant to identify murders–especially of lesbians–as hate crimes. So the killer raped and murdered two women–it’s not like he “knew” they were lesbians. Maybe he was “just” targeting women. Or so the thinking goes. And of course, women as a class are exempted from hate crime legislation. I have often seen transactivists play up the murder of a trans woman as a hate crime when it was apparently motivated by drug money. That some how “counts.” But the murder of lesbians, which often involve a domestic violence and/or honor killing by an ex-husband, boyfriend, father, brother, girlfriend, etc.,somehow never qualify.

  7. Who murders them? Next to no straight men are attracted to transgender women. Few gay men either according to the same survey of a 1000 people. Men don’t give a stuff what trangender men do so who are the perpetrators given men are out of the picture and most murders by nearest and dearest?

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