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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Anonymous

GOT PROOF? AS IN ANY? OF COURSE NOT. Because you're a LIAR.

Anonymous

Pretty funny ACLU claims to be helping transgender people when the head of the ACLU Romero and his Sarasota lawyer sidekick emailed a transgender victim of a violent crime who had been momentarily stomped to death by 15 people at Sarasota,s only LGBT club at the time and the employees hid victims body refused to call 911 then two ers refused to render care to victim... Then later head of the ACLU Romero and his Sarasota ACLU side kick lurch emailed victim and told him how his civil rights had not been broken...LOL WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING

Eden

I was raised in a Christian household and I have never experinced sexual, psychical, psychological or verbal abuse. I am happily polysexual and I value my friends who are transgender and transsexual highly. They are human, just like me, and they deserve to be treated properly and respectfully.

Anonymous

You're getting assaulted because instead of your political movement handling things appropriately you've made a huge nuisance of yourselves and caused people trouble for disagreeing you and hurt those who disagree with your narrative.
Start respecting others right to believe differently instead of trying to get people fired for not wanting to play along with your belief that you are a man in a woman's body or vice versa.
Personally I went from supportive to in opposition because of how badly behaved the activist community is in our country.
Forcing people to accept you breeds intolerance, because it disrespects the feelings and beliefs of those individuals.
0 Pity from me. And 0 caring whether it upsets people in the comments or not, or if they don't "respect me" for saying it.
When the activist movements for this kind of thing start behaving better, maybe I'll support them then. Until then, personally I just want all the obnoxious, angry, lashing out activists to go away and leave our country in peace for once.
Start a better community outreach in how you handle being upset about people "discriminating" against you (that is, not believing your narrative and bullshit pseudo science).
The few trans friends I choose to make, I respect because they don't act like the activist assholes do at large. They are respectful of those who disagree, and it makes them enjoyable to be around, and actually makes me more willing to use their preferred pronouns.
Respect begets respect, behaving unnaturally however, and lashing out at people for not believing you or agreeing with you long enough makes people resentful of your presence, and the more you push it, the more likely you are to provoke the other side to violence.
There is no such thing as righteous anger. Just anger and self pity. Modern activism has allowed it to consume people and encourages it. You pushed, you lashed out, you attacked and got people fired for disagreeing, and pretended to be a hero, and tried to suppress the speech of those who disagree.
Guess what? Violence is what happens when you do that. Because people feel cornered, and aren't going to just submit to the tyranical behavior of fake heroes and activists.
This is a hole the Left has dug for itself, and activists have dug for themselves.
0 Pity. 0 cares given. And much lols as you scratch your head and just get angry instead of thinking about how your groups interact with and treat communities who don't agree, as you attempt to force your views on them. You try to take people's power, you hurt people, then you act like you are not a bad guy.
Well, guess what.
You are.

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