March 17, 2021
Pressley-Newman Amendment Supporting LGBTQ+ Survivors Included in House-Passed Violence Against Women Act
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congresswoman Marie Newman (IL-03) applauded the House passage of their amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that would establish the first-ever grant program dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking—including trans women of color. The amendment was included in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021, which passed the House of Representatives today.
“The Violence Against Women Act is about saving lives and ensuring justice for survivors who have suffered in silence for too long,” Rep. Pressley said. “But until now, Congress’s efforts have overlooked the hurt and harm felt by LGBTQ+ survivors, especially trans women of color. I’m proud that this year’s Violence Against Women Act included my provision to create grants and services dedicated to serving members of the LGBTQ+ community. I am grateful to Rep. Newman for her partnership on this priority and look forward to seeing this critical legislation signed into law. Furthermore, last night’s devastating attack in Georgia that robbed us of the lives of eight people—including seven women, six of whom were Asian women targeted because of their race—reminded us that the crisis of gender-based violence is an intersectional one, and this legislation is needed now more than ever.” “Domestic, sexual, and emotional violence is a tragic fact of life for far too many women in our country, especially including those from our LGBTQ+ community who, in nearly every category, face higher rates of violence than straight women. Violence against transgender Americans, particularly Black and Brown transgender women, has become a national epidemic. On top of this harsh reality is the alarming rate at which LGBTQ+ survivors cannot access services solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Rep. Marie Newman. “That’s why as part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Rep. Pressley and I proposed this critical amendment to ensure that a portion of federal grant funds as part of this legislation are targeted towards services and resources for our LGTBQ+ survivors and communities. This new grant program is specifically designed to combat domestic violence against LGBTQ+ individuals through prevention education, outreach, training to victim service organizations and other entities. We cannot allow ourselves to ignore this gross injustice any longer. We must do more to protect all women, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer women.”
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is robust, bipartisan legislation that calls for the protection of all people from violence and abuse, and ensures that survivors have access to essential services and to justice. Thanks to VAWA, the rate of domestic violence has declined by over 50% since 1994. However, experts estimate that one in three women in the U.S. still experience domestic violence. The LGBTQ+ community, in particular, experiences intimate partner violence and sexual assault at rates significantly higher than the general population. Too often, trans women, especially trans women of color, face mistreatment and discrimination from law enforcement or crisis centers that do not have dedicated services for LBGTQ+ individuals.
Congresswoman Pressley, a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus, has been a close ally to the transgender community and the entire LGBTQ+ community. Last week, she re-introduced the People’s Justice Guarantee, which includes calls for humane treatment and gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ people involved in the criminal legal system. On multiple occasions, she has spoken out against former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson’s attacks on housing protections for transgender people. She has also spoken on the House floor in support of the Equality Act, legislation which provides non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ people.
Rep. Pressley has also remained a strong champion for survivors of sexual assault throughout her career. She is a lead co-sponsor of H.R. 5388, legislation that would prevent the Secretary of Education from rolling back Title IX protections for survivors, as well as H.R.2148, the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, which would strengthen protections from workplace discrimination and harassment. In September 2019, she filed H.Res. 560, a resolution calling for an impeachment inquiry into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, following reporting on new allegations of sexual misconduct committed by the Associate Justice.
In April 2019, following the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, Rep. Pressley issued a statement honoring her mother, Sandra Pressley, a survivor of domestic violence.
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