WASHINGTON, D.C.—As a national conversation around police brutality continued this year, activists brought attention to another issue impacting Black Americans and our nation as a whole — violence against the transgender community. In 2020 alone, at least 35 transgender and non-binary people have been killed, many of them Black and Latinx trans women. This figure has increased exponentially from 2019 and previous years.
This week, NOW joins LGBTQIA+ rights activists and organizations around the country in observance of Transgender Awareness Week, a time to uplift the voices and experiences of trans people as well as spread information and engage in dialogues about the violence and prejudice the transgender community faces. This week culminates with Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, which takes place each year in honor of Black trans woman activist Rita Hester and serves as a time to commemorate all those who have lost their lives to anti-trans violence.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender women are the primary target of the majority of hate-violence–related homicides within the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2017, 44 percent of anti-LGBTQIA+ homicides were transgender women, with an overwhelming number of those homicides impacting transgender women of color. Statistically speaking, transgender people of color are six times more likely to experience police brutality than white, cisgender individuals and transgender women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence when compared to other LGBTQIA+ survivors. On top of being particularly vulnerable to hate-violence, transgender people are also more likely to experience discrimination, harassment, and intimidation on a day-to-day basis.
NOW is thankful for transgender rights activists who are working towards equality and freedom from violence for all. In the wake of a historic election in which dozens of states saw their first queer lawmakers elected, including history-making wins for transgender activists like Sarah McBride, we know that the work to protect trans lives is happening at the grassroots, state, and soon, federal level.
NOW supports legislation like the EQUALITY Act which, once passed, will prohibit discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We will hold our lawmakers and President-elect Joe Biden accountable to ensure that this crucial piece of legislation is passed. As we honor those who have lost their lives due to hate-violence, we must continue to include transgender rights in our activism and uplift the voices and experiences of the Black and Latinx trans community to ensure that we are actively putting an end to anti-transgender violence in the future. Violence against transgender individuals is an epidemic that we all must work towards ending.