Overwhelmingly, transgender women are victims of fatal hate violence. Transgender women and transgender people of color are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence and are more likely to experience police violence, discrimination, harassment, threats, and intimidation. (Hate Violence Against Transgender Communities)
Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project said, “In all of 2014 we documented 12 homicides of transgender women in the U.S. We have alarmingly already reached that number in 2015 – and it is only August.”
The transgender women we have lost in 2015 include:
- Papi Edwards, a black transgender woman, was shot to death at the Fern Valley Motel on January 9th, 2015.
- Lamia Beard, a black transgender woman, was found shot to death on January 17th in Norfolk, Virginia.
- Ty Underwood, a black transgender woman, was found shot to death on January 26th.
- Yazmin Vash Payne, a black transgender woman, was discovered fatally stabbed to death on Saturday, January 31st at the scene of a house fire in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles.
- Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, a Latina transgender woman, was discovered stabbed to death on a stairwell in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Sunday, February 1st.
- Penny Proud, a black transgender woman, was found fatally shot on February 10th at the cross section of Ursulines Avenue and North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Kristina Gomez Reinwald, a Latina transgender woman, was found unresponsive in her home on February 15, 2015 and her death is being investigated as a homicide.
- London Chanel, a black transgender woman stabbed to death in Philadelphia on Monday, May 8th.
- Mercedes Williamson, transgender woman, was found stabbed to dead and buried in a wooded field in George County, Mississippi on Saturday, May 30th.
- India Clarke, a black transgender woman who was found beaten to death on Tuesday, July 21st in a park area of the University Area Community Center in Tampa, Florida.
- K.C. Haggard, a transgender woman was stabbed to death in the street by an individual in a car in front of multiple witnesses in Fresno, California on July 23rd.
- Amber Monroe, a black transgender woman who was found shot to death in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday, August 8th.
*There are two other homicides of transgender or gender non-conforming individuals in 2015 in which a clear motive has not been established or a bias-motive is not apparent, an individual with the last name Golec and Maya Hall.
I don’t usually quote the Human Rights Campaign on trans issues but I agree with what HRC President Chad Griffin has said, “The level of violence targeting transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, is a national crisis that the LGBT movement has a responsibility to confront.”
In order to confront transgender oppression, we must become partners with our trans brothers and sisters. Educate yourself and pledge to be a trans ally (GLAAD, PFLAG, GLSEN). We must understand what we are fighting against and who we are fighting for.
Here are some immediate things you can do:
- Do not tolerate anti-trans remarks or humor in public spaces. Confront anti-trans remarks or jokes in your office, organization or social group.
- Respect a transgender person’s preferred name and pronouns. Be vigilant about using their preferred name and pronouns and help your friends remember to do so as well.
- Support, include, and celebrate transgender people in your community. Examine your own gender stereotypes, prejudices and fears about trans people, and be willing to defend trans lives. This also means including transgender people in positions of leadership in your organizations.
- Talk to your friends and family about transgender experiences, oppression and civil rights. Ask them to join you in supporting transgender people’s fight for safety, dignity, and the opportunity to live their lives fully.
- Bathrooms are a site of a great deal of violence and harassment for transgender people. Encourage schools, businesses and organizations to have unisex bathroom options. If your organization is holding an event, designate a gender-neutral bathroom in the building.
Join the fight for gender identity and expression inclusion in non-discrimination laws. One organization I’m active with (Forum for Equality) is working for passage of the Louisiana Non-discrimination Act (LANA) which would add sexual orientation/gender identity and expression to over 60 current Louisiana non-discrimination statute provisions. There are also many organizations which are working to pass The Full Equality Act of 2015 which covers eight major areas of discrimination law under which LGBT people are currently not federally protected: public accommodations, public education, employment, housing, federal funding, jury service, legal protections, and credit. In addition, the bill would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the other protected classes.
Finally, don’t just mourn when transpeople are murdered. As Paul Monette wrote in Borrowed Time:
Tell yourself: None of this ever had to happen. And then go make it stop, with whatever breath you have left. Grief is a sword, or it is nothing.
The time is now. The place is here. The ones who must are us.