Aisha Davis, Manager of Policy & Advocacy

Today, as with many other days, community activists and members are considering the importance of believing, trusting, and respecting survivors. At Howard Brown, there is no hesitation in putting our faith in survivors. Jussie Smollett’s recent arrest does not and will not prevent Howard Brown from believing, supporting, and standing with survivors.

The reality of hate crimes is very real and affects our patients directly. No event, current or otherwise, should be used as a means to discredit survivors. Hate crimes are pervasive and oppressive to LGBTQ+ people and people of color. They affect people’s health, limit access to opportunity, and often go unsolved. For example, trans women of color face harrowing odds – and reports of hate crimes perpetrated against them have continued to grow in the past month. For example, at the end of last year, Alexus Tate was harassed for using the bathroom in a casino. Last month, a woman known as Pinky was chased and shot twice in Houston, at point blank range.

In addition to this violence, the constant threats of physical violence, verbal abuse, and discrimination take a toll on access to income, work and educational opportunities, housing, and general quality of life. The violent, hateful acts perpetrated against Alexus and Pinky and their effects on both women and our communities should not be doubted. It is this vey doubt and skepticism that often leads to hate crimes going unreported and creates an environment where survivors must face being re-traumatized and questioned repeatedly.

We cannot be distracted from the real and persistent challenges affecting the health and well being of our community due to unchecked hate crimes. Furthermore, we urge government agencies and law enforcement to allocate available resources to investigating the numerous open cases of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people both here in Chicago and across the country. Notably, the Department of Justice has found that, between 2016 and 2017, the number of hate crimes committed based on race, based on sexual orientation, and based on gender all rose. These statistics indicate that there is still much more work to do to ensure the safety and health of our communities.

Howard Brown Health will continue to believe, respect, and stand with survivors and supports any work done to ensure the safety of survivors and the investigation of hate crimes they experience.