The US Human Rights Network (of which Woodhull is a member and, with SisterSong, chairs the Social Rights and Gender Justice Working Group) Coordinating Center extends our thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of the 18 transgender women, – primarily women of color, and specifically Black, – whose lives have been taken this year due to hate violence. Along with our members, we raised this issue as a human rights crisis in March and have since seen the numbers increase at an alarming rate. These numbers are likely on the conservative end as they are only the reported cases. When we include Mya Hall, a Black trans woman who was killed by the NSA, the number jumps up to 19 killings. Over half of the transgender women killed are under the age of 30 years old.
In every instance where elected officials fail to condemn the interrelated systems of transphobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia, or take steps to end all forms of violence including the criminalization of groups of people and laws that support discrimination, they are actively participating in a culture of hate and violence. Anytime an individual joins in racist, misogynist, transphobic, and homophobic speech, or fails to speak out against those forms of oppression, in public and private spheres, that person is actively engaging in a culture of hate and violence.
A broader culture of discrimination and exclusion perpetuates to this crisis. It is legal to deny employment to trans people in 32 U.S. States. With this form of economic exclusion, it is no surprise that trans people experience disproportionate rates of poverty: a 2010 study found that 34% of Black trans people made incomes of less than $10,000/year, 8 times the rate of the general population. Almost all transgender people (97%) have experienced harassment or discrimination on the job, including about 50% who report being referred to with the wrong pronoun, repeatedly and on purpose. 47% of all Black trans people have experienced incarceration.
We join trans people across the country who are fighting for a world where they, and everyone else, lives in dignity, power, and respect. We need clear action against the interrelated systems of transphobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia and violence from our political leaders and movements, and concrete support for trans women of color while they are alive. We are past the time for statements. The time for change is long overdue.
(Picture credit: Micah Bazant)