Deadly Violence Against Transgender People Is on the Rise. The Government Isn’t Helping.

In recent years, the number of transgender and nonbinary people murdered has hit record highs. This year, the alarming trend is expected to continue.

According to one survey, one in four transgender people have been assaulted because they are trans. The majority of deadly attacks against transgender people are against women of color. In Jacksonville, Florida, four Black transgender women have been shot in the last six months alone. Three of them were killed.

The pattern has alarmed activists locally and nationally. Civil rights groups have asked the Department of Justice to investigate the Jacksonville attacks and provide training on responding to this kind of violence for local law enforcement.

A recent investigative report by ProPublica on the murders in Jacksonville found that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) consistently misidentified the victims by referring to them as men and by the names given to them at birth. Invalidating the identity of a trans person by invoking an abandoned birth-designated name is known as “deadnaming.” This practice negates the truth of transgender victims’ lives and prevents accurate investigations into their deaths.   

The report found that nationally, across 65 law enforcement agencies investigating trans murders since January 2015, “in 74 of 85 cases, victims were identified by names or genders they had abandoned in their daily lives.” If a woman who is transgender is killed and reported as male, then her community may not be accurately informed of her death and witnesses may not know to come forward.

Erasing the truth of trans lives, even in death, is also a demoralizing blow to the trans community. Activist and actress Laverne Cox responded to the ProPublica report on Instagram, recalling a time she contemplated suicide and feared the truth of her life being erased in death:

Being misgendered and deadnamed in my death felt like it would be the ultimate insult to the psychological and emotional injuries I was experiencing daily as a black trans woman in New York City, the injuries that made me want to take my own life.

The trauma of being denied a claim to one’s own truth is reason enough to stop the practice of deadnaming and misgendering transgender people. But practically speaking, deadly violence against transgender people, including by suicide, is fueled by this kind of government action that legitimizes anti-trans bias by perpetuating the idea that a trans person’s name and gender aren’t “real.”

Deadnaming isn’t the only government practice contributing to pervasive bias. In many states, it is difficult to impossible for transgender people to update the gender marker listed on their driver’s license or birth certificate. Even where such changes are permissible, many transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, live in poverty and cannot afford to see a doctor to obtain the required documentation to make the change or pay the fees to the agencies that issue identification. Without identification matching their gender, transgender people can be “outed” as transgender in routine interactions at bars, movie theatres, hospitals, or with police. Such interactions can lead to harassment and violence.

As the ProPublica report documented, being known as transgender also leads to pervasive job discrimination. Without laws explicitly protecting them from discrimination, many transgender people — particularly trans people of color who also experience systemic racism — face housing and food insecurity, homelessness, and criminalization.

Without safe access to public spaces — whether shelters, libraries, stores, hospitals, or the workplace — transgender people are perilously situated and face heightened risks of violence. If you are being followed but can’t duck into a restaurant without fearing rejection, humiliation, and discrimination, your risk of violence escalates. If you are homeless and can’t safely access shelter because you are transgender, your risk of violence escalates as you navigate street-based homelessness. If you cannot find stable work and you need to participate in criminalized economies like the drug or sex trades to survive, your risk of violence escalates.

The insistence on ignoring the truth of a transgender person’s name and gender in the midst of the systemic factors that contribute to violence, truly is, as Cox noted, adding insult to grievous injury.

If we are to stop the staggering rise of violence against trans women of color in Jacksonville and across the country, we must take meaningful steps to recognize the basic humanity of trans people in life and in death.

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Olivia-Mai

Look at the assholes with no proof acusing all transgender ....
Anonymous Freek
Can't tell your real name to pitch your ass crap.
Go duck yourself

Trans woman "M"

I lived in misery as a 'male' and found peace as a trans woman. Who is anyone to judge what I have been through except me and the people around me. If you are searching for a monster, look no further than the spewers of hate who have posted above this. In my little corner of the world I will try to make the world a better, kinder place. I am not in competition with women born female. I am very much interested in understanding what they have dealt with and wish to join in trying to make things better. Before you judge us, get to know one of us on a personal basis, you will find that in most cases we are great people just trying to live a life without the horrible dysphoria. Oh, a fact about trans women. We are the least likely to be sexual predators. Consider what happens to sex drive when testosterone is removed and estrogen replaces it. This thing of us being sexual predators is a lazy, fear based, ignorant of the facts argument. I say this to the logical people out there. As for the haters, nothing I can say will effect your enjoyment of hating me.

Anonymous

I'm sure this increase in violence has NOTHING to do with more and more articles and think pieces and general thought that trans people have no moral duty to disclose before sexual relations, and the general entitlement seen in the trans community, calling people transphobic simply for having a genital preference, and condoning rape of others. It's unconscionable to send people out into the world with a false sense of entitlement and make them think it's acceptable to rape others, and then when these men that they rape fight back in self defense, it's called transphobia

Anonymous

Trans women DO disclose before romantic relations and are killed -- the so-called "trans panic" defense is a myth perpetrated by bigots who seek to harm trans people out of sheer hatred. (If you want proof of trans hatred just look to some of the comments on this page, for example, including yours.) So its "entitlement" now to ask to be left in peace and not harassed, intimidated, locked out of jobs, housing and medical treatment simply for being true to one's own identity? The real "entitlement" are cisgender people who make baseless accusations of "rape" when such simply does not occur. The myth of trans women (I say women because trans men aren't usually accused of this) "deceiving" men into having sex with them is just that -- a myth created by alt-right extremists and evangelicals to inflame public sentiment against transsexuals. The reality is trans women are killed for a variety of reasons, usually based on hate or shame -- sick, psychotic homicidal men who secretly are attracted to trans women but can't deal with their own shame after sexual relations, so they kill them and claim "deception" as a defense and its their word -- the word of a killer -- against the dead victim. Trans people are not rapists, but many Christians *are* rapists and pedophiles which is well established as a matter of record. Take your lies and hate somewhere else -- no one is buying it here.

Rick Sanchez

Zero evidence is provided here of these claims about trans murders. The CNN article has no murder data. It references a HRC report. I found the report & it states there were 28 trans homicides. Twenty- eight. Even the HRC report states not all 28 deaths were due to the person being trans. The previous yr was 23, so it is an increase but we can't discern the quality or scope of record keeping. Every loss of life is heartbreaking. But the data doesn't support this post's characterizations of trans murders.

jaiowyn robinson

national ACLU needs to crack down on the TERFs that run the Ohio ACLU, if your going to pretend to care about us.
emma keeshan (one of your own) has denied every claim we as a community has ever brought to the aclu's attnetion here.
personally ive been denied foodstamps thru the states job and family services programs that refuse to recognize the F on my ID, prefering a birthc ertificate which is contractually illegal. even having won appeals (on my own no help) im left to seek such services out of county for the past 2 yrs to no avail.
https://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/treat-people-like-a-fcking-human-being-trans-woman-rips-denial-of-food-stamps-over-gender-dispute/

they also dont care about torture while incarcerated (or housing of any sort)
https://kittysbelle.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/last-time-i-was-incarcerated-for-simple-inability-to-pay-a-fine/

nor do they care about terf job secuyrity barriers that stop trans people from becoming electrologists here in this backward ass state to help my minority.
https://kittysbelle.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/necessity-of-electrolysis-laser-permanent-hair-removal/

aclu of ohio has only ever represented us once an that was when cayahoga county gave us protections an it happened a block from their offices, they couldnt not do it. an now those terfs that dont think trans people deserve any rights or representation (that work under your name) are butchering a birth certificate because they dont want to win.

i can be reached at kittysbelle@yahoo.com
or
same name on FB

Anonymous

I really think transgender activists are just pushing things too far and that is making some people angry and possibly violent towards those in the trans community. They should not fill transgender people with dangerous ideas that they do not have to disclose their status because they are exactly the same as biological women, or that any men who are not interested in dating transwomen are transphobic. Being transgender is fine nothing wrong with it as long as they are open about it to themselves and others and do not seek to force acceptance on those who may not be interested. They should always make sure people know their status even if they pass convincingly.

Arylin

While I do agree to a level about disclosure of ones transgender status, you have to understand the risks that any trans person takes in doing so. Also, not everyone needs to know. For me, if I'm to the point where I want to know someone a bit better, then I disclose. But until we get there, you have no business knowing about that.

Renia

It's their life I don't agree with it at all but they don't deserve to die it's there life

Anonymous

LIARS.

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