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“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union

#18 Rise in Number of Transgender People Murdered

Proposing a “comprehensive look” at transgender homicides since 2010, Mic’s Meredith Talusan investigated in December 2016 “how and why trans lives are not counted and what we can do to end the violence.” The Mic report began with a revealing comparison of homicide figures: Among the general US population, one in 19,000 persons is murdered every year; for young adults, aged 15–34, the figure is one in 12,000. For black trans women in the same age range, the rate is one in 2,600. In 2015 FBI homicide data documented 15,696 murders. As Mic reported, “If in 2015 all Americans had the same risk of murder as young black trans women, there would have been 120,087 murders.” Put another way, although the total number of transgender homicides per year may seem small, it “represents a rate of violence that far exceeds that of the general population.”

And, in fact, as Talusan’s report went on to document, due to underreporting and misidentification (many trans murder victims are “misgendered” by officials and news reports, and even by immediate family members who sometimes reject a relative’s trans identity), the actual trans murder rate is likely “much higher.” The result of the Mic investigation is what Talusan described as a “comprehensive database” of transgender Americans who have died by homicide since 2010. 2010 was the first year that the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), an organization that tracks homicides in the transgender community, began its formal count.

As of late June 2017, GLAAD had documented fourteen transgender people killed in 2017, all of whom, its website noted, were transgender women of color. (See Alex Schmider, “GLAAD Calls for Increased and Accurate Media Coverage of Transgender Murders,” GLAAD, July 26, 2016, updated June 28, 2017; for previous Project Censored coverage on the media invisibility of trans homicides, see Caitlin McCoy and Susan Rahman, “Zero Media Coverage for Transgendered Murder Victims,” Project Censored, April 1, 2015.)

Between 2010 and 2016, Talusan summarized, at least 111 transgender and gender-nonconforming Americans were murdered “because of their gender identity.” Under the LGBTQ umbrella, she elaborated, no group “faces more violence” than transgender people, who accounted for 67 percent of the hate-related homicides against queer people in 2015, according to the NCAVP. The US Census does not track transgender people; and, although the FBI added gender identity to its records of hate crimes in 2014, it does not track gender identity along with its homicide statistics.

“At every stage,” Shannon Minter, a transgender attorney and legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Mic, “there are bias-based obstacles” that diminish the chances that a trans person’s death by murder will be accounted for publicly, “and those levels reinforce each other.” People hesitate to even go to the police in some cases. Official records—from police reports and hospital records, to death certificates and obituaries—typically lack the means to represent transgender people. And even when police or coroners correctly identify a murder victim as transgender, law enforcement defer to families on releasing that information. A sergeant for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC, who is a transgender woman and the MPD’s LGBT liaison, told Mic, “I would never out anyone as trans during life or in their deaths, not coming from a police department.” Media reporting on transgender homicides is improving, said the NCAVP’s communications director, Sue Yacka, but “local press still has a long way to go.” Yacka routinely contacts news organizations to attempt to get them to use transgender victims’ names and genders. Similarly, in its report, GLAAD called on news media to “report on the brutal violence perpetrated against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color” and to “respect and use the lived identity, name, and pronoun of the victim.” But fundamentally, Talusan wrote, tracking transgender homicides is problematic because “gender identity can be difficult to pin down . . . Trans people don’t look or act just one way.”

Cases of homicide of transgender people are not only undercounted, they are also less likely to be solved and prosecuted. Mic reported that there have been “no arrests” in connection with 39 percent of transgender murders from 2010 to 2015. Furthermore, when perpetrators are found, the legal outcomes of those cases show “clear disparities” between victims who are black trans women and those who are not. People who kill black trans women and femmes are usually convicted of lesser charges—such as manslaughter or assault—than those who kill people of other trans identities, Mic found. In the time span studied, no case of trans homicide had resulted in a hate crime conviction, according to the report.

Despite these bleak circumstances, Talusan reported that recent activism focused on transgender murders might be having a positive effect. Juries are still hesitant to convict suspects of first-degree murder for killing a transgender person, but since 2010 just one case has resulted in a jury returning a not-guilty verdict. This, Talusan wrote, may encourage future prosecutors “to be more aggressive in pursuing murder convictions rather than settling for plea bargains.” Similarly, due to public pressure, police departments are responding to transgender-related violence with “greater awareness.” Perhaps most significantly, improved economic conditions, which would keep transgender people from being “forced to make choices that could endanger their lives,” will be fundamental to protecting them in the future. As Talusan reported, “a startling 34% of black trans people live in extreme poverty.”

Alex Schmider, “GLAAD Calls for Increased and Accurate Media Coverage of Transgender Murders,” GLAAD, July 26, 2016, updated June 28, 2017, http://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-calls-increased-and-accurate-media-coverage-transgender-murders.

Meredith Talusan, “Documenting Trans Homicides,” Mic, December 8, 2016, https://mic.com/unerased.

Sandy E. James, Jody L. Herman, Susan Rankin, et al., “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey,” National Center for Transgender Equality, December 2016, http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS Full Report – FINAL 1.6.17.pdf.

Trudy Ring, “Virginia Woman is 27th Trans Person Murdered in 2016,” Advocate, January 6, 2017, http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/1/06/virginia-woman-27th-trans-person-murdered-2016.

Student Researcher: Keira Andrews (Syracuse University)

Faculty Evaluator: Jeff Simmons (Syracuse University)

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