From murder to poverty to housing discrimination, these communities face staggering violence.
Last Thursday marked the eighth annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, an occasion aimed at pushing back against the exclusion and isolation this community has been forced to endure.
Indeed there are signs that transgender people—particularly those who are wealthy and white—are gaining visibility in 2017, as illustrated by the global prominence of television personality and Donald Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner. But this visibility does not, in itself, improve material conditions for the vast majority of transgender people, who are far more likely to face housing discrimination, deep poverty, incarceration and murder, especially if they are people of color. At least seven transgender women have been killed this year already, putting it on track to be the deadliest year ever for the community. Of the women who were slain, six were black and one was Lakota two-spirit.
Meanwhile the Trump administration and state-level lawmakers have advanced a spate of initiatives that directly threaten the public safety and wellness of transgender people, including so-called bathroom bills.
In light of these realities, organizers across the country are calling for social movements to address the conditions that transgender people face, particularly those who are targeted by multiple forms of oppression, from poverty to police violence.
“In this time we are seeing more and more that what it means to fight for transgender people is to do the things that communities, including transgender communities, have long been fighting for,” said Micky Bradford, an Atlanta-based organizer with Southerners on New Ground and the Transgender Law Center. “We need safety and the power to shift material conditions and break the isolation between all of us. We need to be talking about what it takes to stop the killing of Black transgender women and dismantle patriarchy.”
‘Safety is a big deal to transgender communities’
The structural violence faced by transgender communities is staggering. According to the news outlet Mic, which is building a database to track murders of transgender people, young, black transgender women have a far greater chance of being murdered, with one in 2,600 killed. This compares to one in 19,000 for the general population.
Violence also takes the form of systematic discrimination. The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that, “One in five transgender people in the United States has been discriminated when seeking a home, and more than one in ten have been evicted from their homes, because of their gender identity.”