The transgender community continues to face biased violence that has resulted in at least 22 murders in the United States so far this year. This estimate is lower than the actual number due to cases being unreported or victims not being identified as transgender in the media often because the victim’s gender identity is not recognized by authorities and/or family members.
The victims of this violence are disproportionately trans woman of color, Black trans women in particular, which demonstrates the compounding effects of transphobia, racism, & sexism. In 2017, the deadliest year on record for transgender people with 25 reported murders, 84% of deaths were people of color; 80% were women and more than 75% were under the age of 30 according to the Human Rights Campaign and Trans People of Color Coalition report, A Time to Act. Distressingly, 2018 may prove to be another record-breaking year.
The first known trans person killed in 2018 was Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien in Massachusetts, who was a well-known community advocate who organized and produced trans beauty pageants.
In May, Roxsana Hernandez, a trans woman from Honduras seeking asylum in the US, died while in custody of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement. LGBTQ migrants, especially transgender individuals, face increased vulnerability to violence.
Even more recently, Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, a 31-year old Black trans woman, was fatally stabbed in Chicago and was the 6th trans woman of color murdered in a five-week period, and the 22nd recorded trans murder in 2018.
Dehumanization leads to violence. Transgender individuals are children, siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, friends, partners, and community leaders. Recognizing and protecting the humanity of transgender individuals on a personal, state, and federal level is crucial to ending this violence.
Continued attacks from the current administration contribute to the dehumanization of transgender individuals. These attacks include, to name a few; the Department of Education’s announcement that it will not protect trans students’ rights to use appropriately gendered facilities, the Justice’ Department’s instruction to attorneys to take the legal position that federal law does not protect transgender workers from discrimination, Trump’s attempt to discharge transgender military service members, the Department of Justice’s illegal policy of housing transgender individuals in federal prison facilities that match their sex assigned at birth rather than their actual gender identity, instructing the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to not use a list of words including “transgender” and “diversity”, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s removal of four key resource guides for emergency shelters on best practices for serving transgender people facing homelessness.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), observed November 20 every year, commemorates those lives lost to anti-transgender violence. Day of Remembrance will be observed starting at the Courthouse on Pearl St. at 6pm with featured speakers including District Attorney Michael Dougherty, County Commissioner Deb Gardner, Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones, and local trans community members. After opening remarks, the group will silently walk to the First United Methodist Church labyrinth for a names ceremony.
Out Boulder County also hosts a week of activities leading up to TDOR, Trans Awareness Week, Nov 13-20. This year’s events include Sharing Transgender Stories: Q&A Panel with local trans individuals on Nov 14 and a film screening of “A Queer & Pleasant Danger” at the Dairy Arts Center on Nov 13; see the full list of events here: www.outboulder.org/TAW