CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sherrell Faulkner, a transgender native of Charlotte, died on May 16. Her death was the result of injuries sustained during an assault in Nov. of 2016. Faulkner is the 11th transgender homicide victim nationwide so far this year.
Last year, a grim record was set; there were 23 transgender people murdered in 2016, compared to 21 in 2015. Not even five months into 2017, that record is on the track to be surpassed.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) tracks hate violence against the LGBTQ population and releases reports on the resulting statistics. One of the coalition’s member organizations, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (NYCAVP), leads the commentary on such crimes.
“As a society we call on everyone one of us to do our part to speak out against this violence and help stop this epidemic,” said NYCAVP Executive Director Beverly Tillery. “Let’s commit to hiring transgender people of color, making sure they have safe places to live, standing up when we see or hear trans people demeaned and attacked, and simply valuing their lives.”
Carolinas-based LGBTQ advocacy organizations were also incensed by the violence so close to home. Equality NC‘s Director of Transgender Policy, Ames Simmons, spoke out.
“Our hearts are heavy with the news of the death of Sherrell Faulkner. North Carolina’s LGBTQ community and everyone at Equality NC’s thoughts are with the victim of this tragic violence,” said Simmons. “We are asking leaders and community members at every level to consider both the overt and underlying reasons for these killings. We must address the root causes of violence against our community, and we cannot rest until the violence stops.”
The roots of the violence are not hard to understand. Locally in North Carolina, Faulkner’s assault occurred on Nov. 30 — long before House Bill 2 (HB2) was repealed. HB2 wrote discrimination against transgender people into state law. When the notorious law was “repealed,” it was in fact replaced by HB 142, which some advocates say is just as bad.
“It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color,” The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) argues. “The intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”
“Continuing an alarming multiyear trend, people of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people made up the majority of victims of hate violence,” the NCAVP 2015 report on LGBTQ hate violence said. “Of the 24 reported homicides, 62% were people of color, including twelve people who were black and three Latin@. Sixteen (67%) of the 24 reported homicides were transgender and gender non-conforming people. Of the total number of homicides, thirteen (54%) were transgender women of color.”