DC Launches Ad Campaign To Combat Anti-Trans Hate on Public Transportation. There's Been One Incident in the Past Two Years.

June 9, 2022

A single incident of anti-transgender harassment on the Washington, D.C., metro in the past two years has prompted an ad campaign to fight such hate across the city.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in May launched a campaign—funded with money from its $2.9 million annual advertising budget—at stations across the D.C. area pledging to make "Metro safer" by reducing harassment of transgender passengers. One advertisement features a white male with a man bun and beard yelling "transphobic slurs" at a gender-ambiguous person sitting on a train.

"NOT IN OUR HOUSE," the ad reads while also encouraging D.C.-area straphangers to report such incidents to the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD).

Yet such incidents have almost never occurred, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of public crime data provided by the MTPD and the FBI. Metro police have not recorded a single incident of harassment or violence on the basis of race or gender in 2022 or 2021 and just one anti-transgender bias incident in 2020. Federal data additionally show that over 99 percent of anti-trans incidents in the last decade do not involve white men.

The ad campaign comes as D.C. residents flee public transportation due to fears of seemingly random acts of violence on the metro. Metro ridership has dropped 80 percent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also corresponded with a sharp uptick in violent crime.

Anti-transgender hate crimes in 2020 accounted for less than 3 percent of all hate crimes recorded by the FBI, with black people as the most common offenders.

In the 28 anti-transgender hate crimes in D.C. logged by the FBI in 2020, none of the offenders were white. The same FBI statistics show that in the last 10 years white people have been responsible for just 2 out of the 217 recorded anti-transgender hate crimes in the city.

Source: FBI
Source: FBI

Requests for more information from the WMATA on the ad campaign's cost went unanswered. Although an employee said the agency does keep records on harassment incidents, that person declined to provide them. An employee of the agency's anti-hate crime task force told the Free Beacon that he is not supposed to talk to reporters.

The D.C. government announced in April it will increase police presence at Metro facilities as a response to plummeting ridership and a spike in certain violent crimes. According to WMATA data, aggravated assaults doubled from April 2021 to April 2022.

D.C. authorities in 2021 recorded a five-year high of 183 assaults at public transportation facilities. D.C.-area workers' decisions to work from home or take alternative transit have resulted in a nearly $500 million budget shortfall for the D.C. metro system projected by summer 2023.