This article was published on March 24th, 2021
2020 made the record books for the deadliest in history for the transgender community, but with less than three months into 2021, anti-trans homicides are up more than 300%, and advocates believe more lives will be lost. In 2020, 45 trans people were murdered, surpassing a previous high of 31 in 2017. The true number of victims may never been known as many are unreported or misgendered in death, and the overwhelming majority of the victims are transgender women of color.
2021 Is On a Record Deadly Pace for Trans People
According to the National Black Justice Coalition, at least four times more trans people have been killed this year than by the same point last year. The figures reveal how society as a whole marginalizes the transgender community, particularly those of color. The Executive Director of NBJC, David Johns issued a statement:
“We live in a society that ranks human value according to a hierarchy of bodies and identities, where disposability radiates outward as a person’s distance from the hegemonic ideal increases. These victims were targeted because their identities place them far away from privilege and the social structures that uphold this complex, compound oppression and ultimately place them in disproportionate danger.”
If the current pace holds throughout the year, 2021 will surpass last year’s somber numbers against the transgender community. The director of the Human Rights Campaign, Tori Cooper, opines that the community has already lost enough transgender people to violence this year and added, “It’s clear that, as a society, we’re not doing enough to support transgender and non-binary people or to eradicate the stigma and systemic inequities that so often contribute to this violence.”
The Government and the Important Role Of Allies
Advocacy groups nationwide are already pushing President Joe Biden and his administration to enact laws to prosecute anti-trans hate, expand federal non-discrimination laws passed by the Equality Act, and decriminalize sex work. The argument is that laws which target sex works places cis and transgender women into situation that privilege the safety of the client over their own, which directly exposes them to a high rate of violence from clients. The NBJC has requested that those who want to protect the safety and rights of trans people can learn the basics in order to be better advocates. Those initiatives include raising awareness in communities as well as supporting organizations that are skilled at combating the epidemic of violence sweeping across the nation.
What Happens Next
The importance of allies cannot be understated as they play a vital role in ensuring more lives are not lost this year. By expanding access to safety and opportunity for trans people, the trans community is empowered by the protections that are available to every other person.