An Epidemic of Fatal Violence: The Lives of Black Trans Women are in danger
Updated: Jul 25
BY: Masuda Mahazabin
The month of June was chosen as LGBTQ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riot in 1969, this paved the fight for the rights of those in the LGBTQ community. This wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of a Black trans woman by name of Marsha P. Johnson. Yet fast forward to 2020, it has been reported that five black trans women by the names of Merci Mack, Tatiana Hall, Brayla Stone, Dominique Rem’mie Fells and Riah Milton have been murdered during Pride Month in the United States.
Since 2013, more than 130 transgender and non-conforming gender individuals have been killed in the United States, at least 127 of those individuals were women of color. Black trans women are disproportionately impacted by anti-transgender stigma and racial discrimination, this is inextricably linked to the fatal violence that they face. It is clear that the intersections of racism, transphobia and sexism are being linked to the murders of Black trans women. This intersectionality has also made an impact on the socio-economic aspect of their lives as they are constantly deprived of proper access to healthcare, housing, educational and employment opportunities. This has forced Black trans women into the most marginalized places in society. The root causes of this violence must be addressed and understood in order to prevent more cases of this fatal violence from happening. The HRC Foundation claims that anti-transgender stigma interconnects with the denial of opportunity and increased risk factors to create a culture of violence.
Anti-transgender stigma roots from a hostile political environment and cultural marginalization & invisibility. There are very few laws that protect transgender individuals. In recent news, Trump’s administration has decided to deny transgender people of healthcare protection. Discriminatory laws like this send detrimental messages to the public that transgender people are not worthy of equal protection under the law or by other members in our society. Transgender people are usually excluded from participating in communities that involve faith, culture, education and other matters. This marginalization often originates from the lack of representation of transgender identities, especially in media and politics. As well as long-held traditional beliefs that dictate gender norms and behaviours.
Furthermore, the denial of opportunities prevents transgender individuals from being treated as active members of society and oftentimes they are prone to experience poverty, survival sex work and physical and mental health disparities. In the workplace, transgender people experience devastating levels of harassment and discrimination. The mistreatment is even worse for Black transgender people as they are faced with double the unemployment rate of all transgender people and four times that of the U.S population. With the lack of inclusive workplaces, this often leaves transgender people with no other option but to engage in sex work. The HRC Foundation has estimated that one in three victims of anti-transgender fatal violence has engaged in sex work at some point in their life.
This constant exclusion towards transgender people deprives them of the necessities to live. The circumstances they are often put in reflect a misunderstanding, which influences others outside their community to partake in transphobic behaviours. Yet this vicious culture of violence exacerbates when race and class are involved, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color especially those who are Black. It is truly unacceptable that transgender women are simply being murdered for who they are. To end this epidemic of fatal violence, this anti-transgender stigma and racial discrimination must be addressed and eradicated among all facets of society.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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