A silent epidemic
by Rob Howard
Mesha Caldwell. India Monroe. Brandi Bledsoe. Jazz Alford. Crystal Edmonds. T.T. Skye Mockabee. You may never have heard any of these names. But each was a flesh and blood human being. Each a transgender woman of color. And each of them murdered in 2016 or early 2017, in a silent epidemic that most of us are unaware of.
In 2016, 27 transgender people were murdered in the United States. India Monroe was the last of them, on December 21. As of this writing, two more have been killed in 2017. Mesha Caldwell was the first, found shot to death outside Canton, Mississippi. 2016 outstripped 2015, when 21 trans people were murdered.
The Advocate maintains a webpage that is updated as more and more names are added each year. GLAAD notes, “Victims of this violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) recently released their Discrimination Survey, with almost 28,000 respondents from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several US territories. The statistics are heartbreaking.
Among trans respondents, 12 percent have done sex work in exchange for income, nine percent within the last year. The rates are tragically higher for trans women of color. And that’s what puts them at high risk of violence, in addition to the other situations they find themselves in.
The NCTE survey also noted that the police were of little help to these sex workers. “Respondents who interacted with the police either while doing sex work or while the police mistakenly thought they were doing sex work reported high rates of police harassment, abuse, or mistreatment, with nearly nine out of ten (86 percent) reporting being harassed, attacked, sexually assaulted, or mistreated in some other way by police.
“Those who have done income-based sex work were also more likely to have experienced violence. More than three-quarters (77 percent) have experienced intimate partner violence and 72 percent have been sexually assaulted, a substantially higher rate than the overall sample.”
Some of the murders of transgender people aren’t identified as that because of misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim’s family according to GLAAD. So we really don’t know how many murders of this kind there were.
And one is too many. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports an alarming multi-year trend showing that transgender women experience a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group.
GLAAD blames lack of media coverage on this issue, saying, “With violence against transgender people at an all-time high and rising, media coverage is severely lacking. The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack.”
A lack of coverage is why you probably never have heard or seen the names at the top of this article. We as a community need to be more aware of these human tragedies. They are not just statistics; they are our trans brothers and sisters.
Remembering those who died
The Advocate maintains a webpage with information about each of the trans people murdered as a hate crime. It is updated as each murder happens. You can read about each person murdered in 2016 at www.tinyurl.com/zgl3oj2.
• Monica Loera, Austin, TX, 43
• Jasmine Sierra, Bakersfield, CA, 52
• Kayden Clarke, Mesa, AZ. He was 24
• Veronica Banks Cano San Antonio, mid-30s
• Maya Young Philadelphia, PA, 25
• Demarkis Stansberry, Baton Rouge. He was 30
• Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, Burlington, IA, they were 16 years old
• Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, Los Angeles, 32
• Shante Isaac, Houston, 34
• Keyonna Blakeney, Rockville, MD, 22
• Tyreece Walker, Wichita, 32
• Mercedes Successful, Haines City, FL, 32
• Amos Beede, Burlington, VT, He was 38
• Goddess Diamond, New Orleans, 20
• Deeniquia Dodds, Washington D.C., 22
• Dee Whigam, Shubuta, MS, 25
• Skye Mockabee, Cleveland, 26
• Erykah Tijerina, El Paso, 36
• Rae'Lynn Thomas, Columbus, OH, 28
• Lexxi Sironen, Waterville, ME, 43
• T.T. Saffore, Chicago, thought to be in her mid-twenties
• Crystal Edmonds, Baltimore, 32
• Jazz Alford, North Carolina, 30
• Brandi Bledsoe, Cleveland, 32
• Simon (Sierra) Bush, Boise, ID,They were 18
• Noony Norwood, Richmond, VA, 30
• India Monroe, Newport News, VA, 29 (Due to misgendering and misidentification in initial reporting, her death was not known until 2017.)
Copyright 2017 The Gayly – February 27, 2017 @ 11:15 a.m.