RaceSex & Gender

we need to show up for black trans women

September 13, 2018
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2018 is set to be the most dangerous year to be a Black transgender woman in America, but the media coverage of the rampant violence faced by the transgender community continues to fall short on communicating the constant threat of violence faced by trans lives. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2018 may eclipse 2017, the worst year on record when at least 28 transgender lives were claimed by fatal violence—violence that disproportionately affects transgender women of color. These numbers don’t include transgender deaths unreported due to misgendering by police and news reports, and by victims’ families.

The death of 20-year-old Black trans woman London Moore Kinard earlier this week in Charlotte County, Florida, marks the 20th transgender person murdered in the United States, and the 15th Black trans woman. GLAAD reported that “victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness.” The intersectionality of a Black trans woman’s identity places them in a position especially vulnerable to violence, while also being virtually invisible in the media and public discourse. For instance, Mic reported that “Black trans women have a one in 2,600 chance of being murdered, compared to one in 19,000 for the general population.” Such numbers rarely make it into mainstream media.

When mentioning Kinard’s untimely death, the Transgender Law Center also cited “the recent deaths of Dejanay Stanton in Illinois, Vontashia Bell in Louisiana, and Shantee Tucker in Pennsylvania—all young Black trans women murdered in just the last two weeks.” In response to the silence around this violence, the Transgender Law Canter, in collaboration with transgender activists (including Raquell Willis, Isa Nayola and Cecilia Chung) are calling for a national moment of silence and action on Friday, September 14th at noon PT/3pm ET.

Isa Noyola, Deputy Director of  Transgender Law Center, issued the following statement about Friday’s national action:

“We are heartbroken and furious at the murder of four young Black trans women in these past two weeks. Each of these deaths is an unspeakable loss of a beautiful, loved young Black woman, and together their murders mark a heightened moment of crisis for our community.

Now—not just when the President tweets or a legislator pushes harmful policy—is the moment we need allies of trans women to mobilize. Now is yet another moment we need our media to pay attention, look at the systemic problems contributing to this crisis, and finally hold each other accountable for offensive, dehumanizing coverage of these deaths. Now is the moment when non-Black trans women, like myself, must recommit ourselves to lifting up the work of Black trans women and confronting all the ways our country, founded on anti-Blackness, is killing our Black trans sisters.

We’re asking folks to show up and show out for Black trans women this Friday. Wherever you are on Friday at noon PT/3pm ET, go outside, take up space with your friends, loved ones, schoolmates, and coworkers, say the names of the lives we’ve lost, and honor those still here in a moment of solidarity and public display of the crisis we’re in. Beyond that moment, check in with Black trans organizers in your communities and ask what support looks like. The only way through the fear that consumes us at these times is hope. The only way to build hope is through community.

It’s been a devastating few years, and particularly since Trump came to office, we have not known a day without crisis. Yes, we’re exhausted. But amid all these crises, we’ve continued to fight, to rally, and to mobilize. We can’t allow the deaths of Black trans women to be the moment we fail to show up.”

Make your voice heard this Friday and support the effort to push the plight of Black trans women into the forefront of public discourse. #TimeForBlackTransWomen

Honor and say the names of the Black trans women we have already lost (per GLAAD):

Shantee Tucker, a trans woman of color, was killed on September 5th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was 30
years old.
Dejanay Stanton, a trans woman of color, was killed on August 30th in Chicago, Illinois. She was 24 years old.
Vontashia Bell, a trans woman of color, was killed on August 30th in Shreveport, Louisiana. She was 18 years old.
Sasha Garden, a trans woman of color, was killed on July 19th in Orlando, Florida. She was 27 years old.
Keisha Wells, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 24th in Cleveland, Ohio. She was in her 50s.
Cathalina Christina James, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 24th in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 24
years old.
Diamond Stephens, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 18th in Meridian, Mississippi. She was 39 years old.
Antash’a Devine Sherrington English, a trans woman of color, was killed in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 38
years old.
Gigi Pierce, a trans woman of color, was killed on May 21st in Portland, Oregon. She was 28 years old.
Nicole Hall was found dead on May 12th in Dallas Texas. She was 39 years old.
Sasha Wall was killed on April 1 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. She was 29 years old.
Amia Tyrae was killed on March 26 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was 28 years old.
Phylicia Mitchell was killed on February 23 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was 46 years old.
Celine Walker was killed on February 4 in Jacksonville, Flordia, but due to misgendering by police and the media,
she was not identified as a transgender woman until February 9. She was 36 years old.
Tonya Harvey, also known as Kita, was killed on February 6 in Buffalo, New York. She was 35 years old.