From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters
This year is setting a horrible record for the number of Transgender women killed across the U.S. Last year there were 12. This is not an insignificant number, but it pales in comparison with the fact that in January and February of 2015 alone, either seven or eight (depending on whose number you use) Transgender women have already been murdered.
CLIMATE OF VIOLENCE
The murders reflect a systematic climate of violence directed against Transgender women nationwide: in Miami a 46-year-old Latina Trans woman, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, was killed, probably by an acquaintance, although initially the cops and media falsely said she had killed herself; Bri Golec, 22, of Akron, Ohio, was stabbed by her father; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, of Los Angeles was stabbed by her boyfriend and died in a burning house; Ty Underwood, 24, of North Tyler, Texas, was shot by her boyfriend on Jan. 26; Penny Proud, 21, was killed, allegedly during a robbery in New Orleans on Feb. 19; Taja DeJesus, 36, of San Francisco was stabbed by a male acquaintance on Feb. 1; and Lamia Beard, 30, of Norfolk, Va., was shot by an unknown person on Jan. 17.
What these killings have in common is that they were directed against, with a few exceptions, young Trans women—a majority of whom were women of color—who did not hide that they were Trans. A large number of these murders involved domestic violence.
At a recent LGBTQ conference (the “Q” can stand for “questioning” or “Queer”) in Denver, Colo., the issue of violence against Transgender women of color was widely discussed. The Advocate newspaper has covered these crimes, and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has called these murders an “alarming, fatal epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming women, specifically transgender women of color in the United States.” They also noted that 72% of LGBTQ homicide victims in 2013 were Transgender women, while 67% were Transgender women of color.
Local media, in covering these murders, participates in this oppression by referring to the victims as men and using the masculine pronoun in reference to them, although they clearly and strongly identified themselves as women.