Only half of cisgender people in the US consider violence against trans women a major problem, despite increasing numbers of fatal attacks on Black trans women in particular.
Just 42 per cent of cis men and 59 per cent of cis women see violence against trans women as an issue, according to the Black Futures Lab report ‘Beyond Kings and Queens: Gender and Politics in the 2019 Black Census’.
In 2019, at least 22 trans and gender non-conforming people were killed and 91 per cent of them were Black trans women, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT+ advocacy organisation that tracks anti-trans violence in the US.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve become more aware of the ongoing high levels of violence that trans folks face in their everyday lives,” said Alicia Garza, who founded the Black Futures Lab and is also the co-creator of Black Lives Matter, in an interview with Xtra.
“When Black trans women have an average life expectancy of 35 years old, there is something wrong,” Garza said.
“And it’s not just the function of people being mean to each other—which is what I think a lot of people think is [the reason] why Black trans women are dying. We don’t actually get into these bigger questions of economic security and the choices that Black trans folks are having to make every single day to survive because they’re largely locked out of the formal life economy.”
The lack of economic security for Black trans women was confirmed by the findings of the Black Futures Lab report, which revealed that 91 per cent of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people reported their household income as being less than $50,000 (£38,458) a year, compared with 61 per cent of cisgender people.
Black trans women reported the lowest income of all the respondents – with 29 per cent on a yearly income of below $15,000 (£11,537), compared with 16 per cent of all other respondents. This makes them twice as likely to be making less than $15,000 a year as anyone else.
“I don’t think that we’re doing enough to talk about and ideate around what it means to ensure that Black trans people have access to adequate, quality, affordable health care, and that the lack of access to it is one of the primary reasons that folks are dying,” Garza said.
“So it’s not just a function of people being murdered on the basis of discrimination. It is also about the choices that people are forced to make because they don’t have access to the things that they need to live,” she added.
The federal minimum hourly wage in the US is $7.25