Black Transgender Women to Hold Vigil in Washington, DC

Black Transgender Women to Hold Vigil in Washington, DC

Transgender women of color are extremely vulnerable to violence and homicide.

Published September 26, 2014

Over the past year, we have seen an up-tick in violence against African-American transgender individuals.

Whether it was 2013 murder of Islan Nettles or countless others — Eyricka Morgan of Newark, NJ; Paige Clay of Chicago; Coko Williams of Detroit; and Brandy Martell of Oakland, Calif. — we are soberly reminded that this violence is not new or rare to Blacks trans folks.

And while the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Renisha McBride have many Black politicians taking a stance, the question is clear: What are they doing for women like Islan?

A group of Black trans advocates hope to change that by hosting a vigil in Washington, D.C., during the Congressional Black Caucus Conference this weekend.  The event, Black Trans Women Lives Matter, will occur on Sept. 27 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

One of the event’s organizers, Ashley Love, told BET.com that the gender identity of these victims shouldn’t deter our communal concern — all Black folk should care about the persistent violence committed against our community.

“This epidemic should concern all African-American women because misogyny targeting women of transsexual experience is misogyny targeting all women. Just as racial segregation is wrong, so is gender segregation.”

She adds, “Women of transsexual experience should not be legally forced to drink from separate drinking fountains than non-trans women — we are not second class citizenship women or sub-women — we are women — period.”

This event will specifically honor the lives of Alejandra Leos, Cemia Dove, Tiffany Edwards, Kandy Hall, Zoraida Reyes, Yaz'min Sancez, Betty Skinner and Nicole Kidd-Stergis, who were all murdered last year, The Advocate reported.

Hopefully our elected politicians will be paying attention.

“[They have been] reluctant to publicly join the trans community's plea for justice," Love states. But she poses an important question: "Does the newly popular slogan '#BlackLivesMatter' mean ALL Black lives, or just some? Are the murders of our trans sisters less worthy of tears, of outrage — their humanity 'less than'?"

A 2013 report conducted by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) found that in 2012 transgender people of color were 2.9 times more likely to experience violence compared to white non-transgender folks. Also, transgender women accounted for a whopping 53 percent of murders of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) community and the Black LGBTQH community accounted for 73 percent of homicides.

Clearly, Black transgender folks are caught in the crosshairs of the intersection of race, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. We can only hope that vigils like this one can usher in a much-needed change and response. 

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(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Written by Kellee Terrell

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