Trans community mourns, bears the brunt of violence


Fourteen Black trans women have been killed in the U.S. this year, including the most recent death of Pebbles LaDime in South Carolina on Aug. 4. This means all trans women who have been violently murdered in 2019 were Black. Locally, our community continues to mourn Tameka “Michelle” Washington, whose suspected murderer awaits trial.

One trans man, Jordan Cofer, was among the nine victims killed by his sibling in the recent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, meaning a total of 15 trans folks have died so far in 2019.

Last year, at least 26 deaths of trans people due to fatal violence were tallied, and the majority of those killed were Black trans women — 80 percent. 

Violence against the trans community is not slowing down and those most affected are trans women of color. Not only are these women dealing with transphobia but also racism, classism and sexism.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found 38 percent of Black trans people live in poverty, compared to only 12 percent of the U.S. population and 29 percent of the trans population overall.

Making matters worse, seeking aid from law enforcement is not always a safe option for Black trans women. In a 2015 survey, the National Center for Transgender Equality found that one in five Black trans women reported being physically or sexually assaulted by a police officer, while one in three said police assumed they were engaging in sex work, simply by being in public.

Even our community has begun using phrases such as “identity politics” and “oppression Olympics,” forgetting or ignoring statistical evidence that shows when a person sits at intersections of oppression, they— and in this case, she — is more affected by systemic inequity and failures.

Trans folks have suffered at the hands of the Trump administration with policies banning them from the military and a May 22 proposal that would deny transgender people experiencing homelessness equal access to shelter, among others. While certain Trumpian policies affect the LGBTQ community at large, many are directed solely at the trans community, and some more specifically impacting trans folks experiencing poverty.

Trans visibility and excellence is soaring in arts and media, such as with MJ Rodriguez’s recent win at the Imagen Awards — Best Actress for her role in “Pose.” But legislatively, at immigration detention camps and prisons alike, trans folks — specifically trans women of color — are still suffering at levels disproportionately greater than the rest of us.