At least four transgender people lost their lives in the space of a week, as trans homicides in the US reach the highest pace ever.
According to The Human Rights Campaign, at least 21 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed by violent means so far this year, nearly matching 2019’s total of 27.
The organisation says it has “never seen such a high number at this point in the year” since they began tracking this data in 2013, and other advocates across the US are horrified by the pace of “rampant and repeated” murders.
“It is ridiculous that we have to continue to hashtag our friends’ names and add them to a list of names to be memorialised every year, and that we expect it,” Carter Brown, executive director of National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, told USA Today.
“We expect it because too many trans women of colour are continuously being murdered and beaten with minimum or no consequence being brought to the assailants.”
The deadly week began with the loss of Merci Mack, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman shot in the head in Dallas, Texas on June 30. She was initially misgendered and deadnamed by police and local media.
Mack’s death was followed by that of Shaki Peters, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman found dead in Amite City, Louisiana on July 1. Then came the murder of Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman who was shot dead in her home in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3.
The fourth killing was that of Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old white non-binary person who was hit and killed by a car while participating in Seattle’s Black Femme March on July 4.
Transgender women of colour are known to suffer the highest levels of violence as they fall at the unfortunate intersection of transphobia and racism.
Systemic problems like homelessness, unemployment and lack of access to healthcare make trans people more susceptible to violence, but the actor and trans activist Laverne Cox believes the stigma around cis men’s sexual attraction to trans women is also a part of the problem.
In an interview with Buzzfeed last year, the Orange is the New Black star said: “I think the people who are attacking trans women, what I say to men, is that your attraction to me is not a reason to kill me.
“There’s this whole myth that trans women are out there tricking people and deserve to be murdered, and that’s not the case.
“There’s been a market for trans women in the realms of dating and sex work for a very long time, we don’t have to trick anyone.”
She encouraged cis women to have conversations with the men in their lives about trans people: “We have to lift the stigma around attraction to trans people, and we have to lift the stigma around trans people existing,” she said.