In the year 2020, 37 transgender individuals were reported dead, and a majority were Black transgender women. In the summer of 2020, six Black transgender women were killed within the same 9 day period.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, which has tracked the deaths of transgender individuals since 2013, Black transgender women in particular are killed at higher rates because of “intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia.” Beverly Tillery, an executive director of the non-profit NYC Anti-Violence Project, described the discrimination that Black transgender women face to TIME magazine. “Black trans women are particularly vulnerable because they face multiple kids of discrimination,” Tillery said. “All of the discrimination results in people often living lives that are just more vulnerable to violence. You have a job that is more tenuous, you live in places that are more tenuous.”

A 2015 Transgender Survey found that around 51 percent of Black trans women had been homeless at some point in their lives, while 38 percent of Black trans respondents said that they lived in poverty. In addition, the National LGBTQ Task Force released a report in 2021 that revealed widespread discrimination against Black transgender individuals. The report described that half of Black transgender respondents who attended school reported facing harassment, while 49 percent of Black respondents had attempted suicide. Factors such as poverty and housing instability, which can result from discrimination against transgender individuals, have made it harder for Black trans women to live in safe environments with less risk of experiencing violence and hate crimes.

Tillery told TIME magazine that an important way to defend and protect transgender women of color is to consult with them on safety initiatives, such as finding safe housing, healthcare, and employment opportunities. According to Tillery, providing these resources to transgender women of color will tell society that “they’re valued community members,” and, “we’re looking out for them.”

Monica Roberts, a Black trans woman, activist, and blogger, told TIME that having Black leadership in the fight towards lessening violence was essential. She described a “multi-layered response,” including legislative responses, responses from organizations such as the NAACP, and local communities.

In 1969, Black trans women such as Marsha P. Johnson began a fight for LGBTQ+ rights which brought the movement to where it is today. Now, it is up to legislators, organizations, and communities to defend and protect Black transgender women. “It is past time for society to recognize that trans lives matter,” said Roberts.


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