Thursday, December 2, 2021

2021 is the deadliest year for transgender people on record

This article was originally published in The 19th newspaper, November 9, 2021.

The list of names is longer than ever.

Nearly two months to 2021, the record for the murder of transgender people in a year is broken: to date, 45 – most of them black or Hispanic – according to the Campaign for Human Rights. Last year, the previous record was set – 44 murders of transgender people.

Markisha Lawrence, a 28-year-old black transgender woman from South Carolina, was killed on November 4. In a statement, Tory Cooper, director of communications for the HRC Transgender Justice Initiative, called Lawrence’s death a tragic milestone for her. and for the community who loved her very much.

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“We must commit ourselves to respecting trans life and end the horrific epidemic of violence that has hit our community,” Cooper said. “Markisha deserved no less than our full commitment to building a better future for transgender people.”

Transgender writer and activist Raquel Willis called the news demoralizing and expected given the lack of investment in trans communities of people of color in recent years.

“I think there has been constant setbacks in dealing with the transgender problem and system of oppression that we constantly face,” Willis said. “In the vast majority of cases, the leaders of our largest LGBTQ pride organizations are not black and brown trans women or people in particular, and overwhelmingly they do not meet our needs.”

According to the HRC, four black transgender people have been killed this year than last year.

In tweet On Tuesday evening, White House First Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the killings “unacceptable.”

“Our heart is with everyone who knew and loved the 45 people killed this year,” she wrote. “The march to end this epidemic of violence continues.”

David Jones, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said providing financial support to black trans women and decriminalizing sex work, which many transgender women are forced to turn to when they are denied other forms of employment, is an important part of addressing underlying inequalities. leave trans women of color vulnerable to violence.

“Basically, for me, it’s a recognition that transgender people are often at a disadvantage economically, like other blacks, queers, non-binary inappropriate people, through no fault of my own,” he said.

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Jones also said the Biden administration must ensure that black transgender people are protected under existing hate crime laws.

READ MORE: Now more and more Americans know transgender people, but most still don’t understand them.

Lawrence’s death comes at a time when transgender communities around the world are preparing to honor the victims of transgender murder for Transgender Memorial Day, an annual vigil on November 20 honoring those killed who live their truth. The grim event often includes the recitation of the names of those killed, whose toll has increased in recent years as violence against transgender people has skyrocketed due to discrimination that advocates say has been fueled by the anti-trans-political climate.

More anti-transgender laws were passed in 2021 than in any other year, with nine bills restricting the participation of transgender youth in out-of-school sports, and another restricting adolescent access to gender-affirming health care. This year, human rights defenders have repeatedly expressed concern that the language in these bills, which often characterizes trans girls as boys, will provoke more violent attacks on trans people.

Counting the victims of transgender homicides has become an increasingly common practice since the stabbing of Rita Hester in Boston in 1998. Misinterpreted by both mainstream and LGBTQ + media, Hester’s death inspired transgender activist Gwendoline Ann Smith to launch a website in honor of those killed. … The site, in turn, will encourage Transgender Memorial Day as well as the practice of taking stock of those who have died as a result of violence.

But advocates warn that such results could be flawed. In 2018, LGBTQ + media organization GLAAD warned news outlets against sensational stories of “the deadliest year in history for transgender people” out of context. The organization noted that murders committed against transgender people are often inaccurately reported due to inappropriate gender behavior on the part of the police and the media. Human rights activists say that as law enforcement agencies and the media have become more sensitive to transgender people, reporting has improved, which sometimes increases the visibility of those killed.

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