TransGriot Note: I wrote this post for Equality Texas.
Ever since the conservative moment lost their culture war to stop marriage equality from happening in Texas and across this nation, they have been increasingly shifting their attacks to demonizing the trans community. That increased anti-trans rhetoric and attempts in several states including Texas to criminalize trans peoples lives has had deleterious effects on trans women of color and especially the African-American trans community.
While the 2011 Injustice At Every Turn survey revealed the extent of the problems that trans America faces, that inaugural survey also pointed out Black Trans World is catching hell. In addition to 26% unemployment, 41% of the respondents reporting experiencing homelessness, 21% reporting discrimination in health care, 20% reporting being HIV+ and 34% of the respondents reporting a household income of less than $10,000.
Another area we’re catching hell at is the unacceptable level of anti-trans murders disproportionately affecting Black trans women Since Islan Nettles was murdered in August 2013, we have had 25 trans women killed (and counting) with the overwhelming majority of them being Black trans women.
I believe the increased anti-trans rhetoric may be a factor in the unprecedented numbers of trans women of color being murdered in 2015. As of this writing 17 trans women have been killed across the United States in which 12 have been Black, and another Black trans woman is in critical condition in a Philadelphia hospital after being savagely attacked on August 20.
Sadly two of the lives lost, Ty Underwood of North Tyler and Shade Schuler of Dallas are Texans. The other pattern that is alarming me is that many of the trans women who have lost their lives this year have been under 40. While we haven’t lost any trans Houstonians yet, I fear it’s just a matter of time with this current battle over HERO all the hateful anti-trans rhetoric that has been uttered by our opponents focused on their despicable strategy of bearing false witness against and demonizing the trans community.
What is infuriating to me as a proud African-American native Houstonian who fought hard with a group of my fellow Houstonians to pass the HERO was seeing a cadre of African-American ministers joining with out of town conservative gaybaiters to spread debunked anti-trans lies to hoodwink and bamboozle people into voting against their own human rights.
Contrary to these modern day Pharisees loud and wrong opinions, trans African Americans have been part of the of the kente cloth fabric of Black life for several decades.
When will our lives matter not only to my people, but to our fellow human beings as well who assert they are our allies? One of the things allies can do to show support for us is helping a Fran Watson created We The People White House petition get to 100K signatures by its September 10 deadline. It calls for a federal investigation into the causes of anti-transgender violence but unfortunately has only 4,663 signatures at the time of this writing.
It’s past time for our Black lives to not only matter to people inside and outside our community, but have our allies fight just as hard to make our human rights a reality as Marsha, Sylvia and countless other trans women have done for yours.