Why are transgender and gender non-conforming people more likely to experience acts of violence than other members of the LGBT+ community? In the United States alone, 26 deaths in 2018 were reported as fatal violence, the majority of whom were transgender women of colour. These victims were killed by friends, partners, and complete strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified. Some of these cases involve a clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and survival sex work.
While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of colour, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, healthcare, and other necessities, barriers that make them more vulnerable.
As is too often in the case of the reporting of anti-transgender violence, many of these victims are misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which can delay our awareness of deadly incidents. Sadly, 2019 saw at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other means by September, showing a clear increase in these events.
Dana Martin, 31, was fatally shot in Alabama on January 6. Ellie Marie Washtock, 38, was fatally shot in Florida on January 31. Washtock was the parent of two children. Despite the medical examiner stating that it was “no suicide”, the police of Florida declared the wound as “self-inflicted”. Jazzaline Ware, 34, was found dead in her Memphis apartment in March. Her death is being investigated as a homicide. Ashanti Carmon, 27, was fatally shot in Maryland on March 30. Claire Legato, 21, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, Michelle Washington, 40, Paris Cameron, 20, Chynal Lindsay, 26, Chanel Scurlock, 23, Zoe Spears, 23, Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, Tracy Single, 22, Bubba Walker, 55, Kiki Fantroy, 21, Jordan Cofer, 22, Pebbles LaDime Doe, 24, Bailey Reeves, 17.
The majority of these victims were black transgender women. The youngest of these, Bailey Reeves, had not even hit adulthood when she was shot on September 2. These people were part of a community, they were described as being loved, adored, and respected by their families and the people that loved them have had them taken away forever by people who could not respect that people wanted to live their lives differently.