WTF America? Transphobia Is Deadly, And It Needs To End Now

by Wendy Wisner
Mic / Twitter

On September 12, Derricka Banner, a transgender woman of color, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was found in a vehicle in the early morning hours, having been fatally shot to death. According to Mic, Banner, who was only 26 at the time of her death, has now become the 20th transgender person to be murdered in 2017.

WTF, America? Is this really where we are at right now? Hate should have no home here, and we all need to start having zero tolerance for it. Zero.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Banner was murdered by 18-year-old Charlotte resident Montavious Sanchez Berry, who was arrested soon after the murder, and that the murder occurred just days before Charlotte was set to host North Carolina Trans Pride 2017, an event that celebrates the state’s trans community.

The details of this murder are horrifying. But what you might not know is that this kind of thing has become all too common in the past few years and is rising in frequency. According to GLAAD, 2015 and 2016 were the deadliest years yet for transgender people — and it looks like 2017 is following that trend.

Think about this for a second. These are people who just want to be who they are, love who they love, and walk on this earth without fearing for their lives.

But as GLAAD points out, these fears are absolutely real and unfortunately founded in reality:

“While some of these homicides have not yet been identified as hate crimes due to lack of information about the perpetrators or motives, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports an alarming multi-year trend showing that transgender women experience a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group.”

A greater risk of death by hate violence than by another other group. Read that again, and then let it sink in. And most of all, don’t be a transphobic asshole. Don’t promote, endorse, or tolerate transphobia from your family, friends, or news sources.

What’s even more horrifying is that in the vast majority of these murders, the victims have been women of color. “Victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness,” writes GLADD.

This is unacceptable, and violence directed at anyone based on their gender, race, or anything else needs to end now. Fucking immediately.

Besides the threat of violence and death, transgender people — particularly transgender people of color — face a lengthy list of day-to-day inequities, many of which were brought to light by a 2015 survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality. The survey looked at 28,000 transgender people from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. The survey respondents were asked questions about employment, education, housing, health, as well as family/community relations.

As a whole, the survey found that transgender people are twice as likely to be living in poverty than the rest of the U.S. population, and transgender people of color (which included Latinx, American Indian, multiracial, black respondents) were 3 times more likely to be living in poverty.

The majority of respondents had been harassed for being transgender at school, with 17% of respondents having dropped out of school as a result. One third of respondents had experienced housing discrimination as a result of their gender, and one third of respondents had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

Not acceptable.

But here’s the statistic that will absolutely shatter you, and needs our utmost attention: 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide. That’s almost 9 times the average rate. And 7% had attempted suicide in the past year, which is 12 times the average rate.

As far as I’m concerned this is another kind of murder, because if transgender people got the love, support, understanding, and compassion that they damn well deserve, these suicide statistics would be a whole lot different.

So listen up: We can’t wait on this. We’ve all got to go out there and loudly and unequivocally support our transgender brothers and sisters. And if we are uncomfortable with the idea, we need to educate ourselves about sexuality and gender, and just open up our damn minds. Get comfortable with it because it’s none of your damn business and someone living their best life does not affect you or your livelihood in any way.

These are fellow human beings we are talking about. They are just as beautiful, smart, and important as any other human out there. They are in our lives, our communities, and chances are, there is a transgender person in your family. And they aren’t going anywhere. They shouldn’t have to.

#TransLivesMatter. And we all need to step up and make sure no further lives are lost to hate anymore, at all, ever.