PLATTSBURGH — Surpassing a violent 2020, this year has shaped up to become one of the deadliest for transgender people in the U.S.
A record 47 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been reported killed so far in 2021, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. With 44 homicides, 2020 was previously the most reported in a single year.
The HRC said those figures are likely an undercount, as LGBTQ+ victims’ stories are often unreported or misreported, it said.
AS YOUNG AS 16
On Saturday, the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance remembered the dozens lost in the last year for this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance in a virtual program that drew 18 people.
Teenagers as young as 16 and adults were victims of domestic assault, shootings and stabbings, the HRC reported. Most were Black and Latino.
Tiffany Thomas, 38, was shot and killed at a Dallas car wash, according to the HRC. After she was pronounced dead at the scene, Thomas’ family denied she was transgender.
Victim advocate Jahaira DeAlto, 42, was killed in her home in Massachusetts along with another woman by her friend’s husband, the HRC’s report said.
“Many factors lead to this violence,” the HRC said in its report. “Anti-transgender stigma can lead to the denial of opportunities in society, such as employment discrimination and exclusion from health care, as well as to increased risk factors such as poverty and homelessness. The combination of these factors, which are often exacerbated by racism and sexism, can lead to an increased risk of fatal violence.”
VOICE WILL BE HEARD
Amy Hayes, a community educator and volunteer coordinator at Stop Domestic Violence, said Saturday that a significant number of deaths in the trans and gender non-conforming community reported in the last year were due to interpersonal violence.
“That’s one of the saddest parts for me, that violence continues to reign and have power in this number,” she said.
Hayes said the advocacy group Stop Domestic Violence focuses on high school and college students and educates them on what healthy relationships are and aren’t. She said education on healthy relationships is critical and is being pushed to be included in schools’ curriculum.
“Ultimately, we want the transgender community to know they can always turn to us for support,” Hayes said, “and we want them to know their voice is going to be heard.”
CALLS FOR PROTECTION
The HRC has called the rising violence trans and gender non-conforming people face an epidemic. The organization has called for “explicit” federal protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people as a measure to stem the violence.
Since 2013, the organization said it has tracked 256 cases of known fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people.
Kelly Metzgar, executive director of the ANCGA, said hosting the organization’s annual day of remembrance is the hardest day of the year.
“The transgender community is continuing to make ourselves known and visible in everyday life,” she said. “If we are to live in a modern, progressive society, we must welcome and accept all people regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression along with all the other protected groups of people who reside in this state.”
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