Obviously, the US criminal "justice" system is racist, classist, homophobic and transphobic to the core (if you're not sure of this, just take a brief look at who is in prison, who gets the longest sentences, who ends up on death row, and/or how queer or gender-nonconforming prisoners are treated inside).
Why, then, this focus on hate crimes legislation as the supposed answer to anti-queer violence? Who, exactly, will be made safer by this type of faith in law enforcement and the prison industry? Would hate crimes legislation have somehow kept Marsha P. Johnson, Brandon Teena, Billy Jack Gaither, Gwen Araujo, Rebecca Wight or Matthew Shepard alive?
It seems that more of a dent would be made towards fighting bigotry of all forms if those arguing for hate crimes legislation would shift their attention to challenging the systemic violence of the prison industry, which imprisons people of color and poor people, then utilizes their labor at an incredibly reduced cost (slavery, anyone?).
It is heartbreaking when those supposedly fighting against violence start calling for hate crimes sentencing enhancements like the death penalty for those charged in anti-gay, anti-queer or anti-trans murders. The death penalty, which is overwhelmingly applied to people of color and poor people in men's prisons, many of them mentally impaired (as well as the occasional lesbian or gender nonconforming person in a women's prison), could perhaps be defined as the ultimate hate crime. Not only is it murder, but state-sanctioned murder.
So, who exactly is made safer by hate crimes legislation? Maybe the cops, with more funding to attack unarmed people of color, homeless people, sex workers and transwomen. Maybe the prison industry, with more pressure on lawmakers to spend billions on new jails instead of housing, healthcare, education, AIDS services, domestic violence prevention, drug treatment, or violence prevention.
But you, walking down the street in all of your fierceness? I don't think so.