An overview of the report:
- 50 Under 30: Masculinity and the War on America’s Youth documents a murderous tide of under-reported violence that is claiming the lives of gender non-conforming youth and young adults ages 30 and under, and the dangerous indifference of law enforcement authorities, policy-makers and mainstream media.Few of us realize just how many young people are dying violently each year simply because they don’t fit someone’s ideal for masculinity and femininity. Yet if federal law mandated the FBI to track gender-based hate crimes, they would outweigh every other category except race.These assaults are a violation of the most basic human rights: life, liberty, expression of self, and basic safety. 50 Under 30 aims to not only convey the tragic personal toll behind the data, but to spur decisive action by human rights and other advocacy organizations, educators, police, media, and youth themselves.For many, the term “gender-based violence” will be new, but the concept will not be. Anyone who has seen a “sissy boy” beaten or a “tomboy girl” ridiculed and tormented is already familiar with the hatred and violence towards those who are gender non-conforming.Research shows that hostility toward gender non-conformity starts early and is commonplace. In one recent study, 54% of youth reported that their school was unsafe for guys who aren’t as masculine as other guys, while one-quarter (27%) complained of being bullied themselves for not being “masculine or feminine enough.” In another, 61% of students reported seeing gender non-conforming classmates verbally attacked, and more than one-fifth (21%) reported seeing them physically assaulted. But this report is not about common harassment or bullying of youth that simply spun out of control. For if the animus towards gender non-conformity is widespread and indiscriminate, its fatalities certainly are not. Indeed, they are distinctly non-random and specific. They are precise in target, and consistent in method.Most of these young victims were biologically male; they were Black or Latina/o; and they were transgressing gender boundaries in some profound way. Almost all were killed by young males about their own age, who assaulted them in extraordinary attacks and often multiple acts of violence. These deaths are consistent with a pattern of young men using murderous aggression to enforce standards of masculinity and to assert their manhood.
This is in the context of a wider “gender culture” that rewards hyper-masculinity, that loathes “sissies,” and that condones a “boy code” that uses male aggression to toughen up young boys (and sometimes enforce femininity in girls – while 8% of these victims were biologically female, their assailants were still males). In such a culture, being publicly labeled a “punk,” or “fag” can literally be a death sentence.
This is, quite literally, a gender war on America’s youth.
50 Under 30 is an examination of a little more than 10 years of the casualties in this war being waged on youth aged 13-to-30. We focused on youth, both because there has been such indifference to the epidemic of gender-based violence against them and because youth are particularly vulnerable to such violence, often lacking adult advocates or sufficient financial and social capital to ensure their own safety.
The data in this report suggests the danger may be magnified among youth of color.
These are deaths that go under-reported, under-publicized, and under-solved. Authorities often fail to categorize them as gender-based assaults, or even as hate crimes. If they are covered by media, it is singularly and always according to the identity of the victim. Since the epidemic is never seen as a whole, its root causes are never addressed or initiatives to address them developed. These young people have been dying violently, and alone, at the rate of about five per year for the last decade. 16 were teenagers; the youngest – Sakia Gunn – was only 15.
Please speak out. Get involved. This epidemic must be stopped.
Download the full report here: 50 Under 30
More information is available at the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition website