CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an alarming rate, transgender murders for 2020 have already surpassed the overall statistics for 2019, and this has happened in only half the time.
Across the U.S., a nation that has seen a marked escalation in racism, more reports of bias and bigotry, a major step back in the current administration’s support of those among the LGBTQ community — and the list continues to increase in a COVID-19 ravaged world despite recent wins at the U.S. Supreme Court level.
Gina Duncan, a contributor to Florida’s WatermarkOnline, remarked that there was “another pandemic quietly…sweep[ing] our nation with deadly consistency — the killing of transgender Americans.
For decades, she shared that from 25-30 transgender individuals, mostly Black, were being murdered regularly. “These murders are dismissed or ignored by the general population and a majority of state and federal lawmakers,” she added.
But this summer has experienced a massive rate, as evidenced by the murders of five Black transgender women in just a single month in from four states in the U.S. alone. Those who met their untimely end were Brayla Stone, Merci Mack, Shaki Peters, Draya McCarty and Bree Black.
These deaths, along with those of two others since June, come at a time when Pride was being celebrated. There have been eight more murders since then.
What is even more distressing is that transgender deaths are also accompanied by “dead-naming” and misgendering the victims by law enforcement, “demeaning them in death and impeding their own investigations,” Duncan continued. To help deal with these issues, protocol and policy resources have been in place that have been published by state and national LGBTQ advocacy groups, in addition to Department of Justice’s comprehensive guides. Unfortunately, law enforcement does not always reference those options, making the situation even more painful for survivors’ family and friends.
“When law enforcement commits these egregious errors, it disrespects the victim, erases their true gender identity and impedes their own investigation as the victim is known in the community as their authentic self. These flawed actions breed mistrust and discourage locals from coming forward with vital information.” In cases that followed the misgendering and dead-naming path, like that of Bee Love Slater from 2019 who was shot multiple times, placed in an abandoned automobile and set on fire, the murder was not classified as a hate crime.
According to data collected by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), 23 of the victims were transgender women, four were transgender men and one was non-binary. The epidemic of violence is particularly pronounced for Black and Latina transgender women, the center shared.
As of press time, the 28th victim was stabbed to death in Portland, Ore. while attending a vigil for murder victim Tyrell Penney, People magazine reported.
Of the 28 murdered this year, Monica Diamond from Charlotte, N.C. was number four on the list.
In the center’s U.S. Transgender Survey, which included more than 28,000 respondents, nearly half (47 percent) of all Black respondents reported being denied equal treatment, verbally harassed and/or physically attacked in the previous year because of being transgender. Additionally, 57 percent said that they were afraid to go to the police when they needed help.
As the crisis continues, issues which keep bubbling up from all of this is the need for increased access to safe, affordable housing, policies that protect transgender people from discrimination and increase economic opportunity, and improved police training, NCTE added.