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The Epidemic of Violence Against Black Transgender People

Hate crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been on the rise for years—especially hate crimes against Black transgender women.

Last year was particularly violent. By August of 2020 there were already more trans murder victims than in all of 2019. Most were trans Black women under the age of 30.


Too often these acts of bigoted, hateful violence are driven by the rhetoric of our leaders. It’s no secret that Trump and his administration actively worked to dehumanize trans people during his time in office.


The tone has changed under the Biden administration. But there’s still a long road ahead in tackling violence against trans people and the deep inequities that add to their struggle.


Young black woman with face mask holding a gay pride rainbow flag

Nowhere to Turn for Help


Most trans people are killed by someone they know. But in 56% of cases it’s not a family member, intimate partner, or close friend, according to the Human Rights Campaign.


Unfortunately, many crimes against transgender people go unreported because transgender victims of violence are less likely to trust the police.


Their distrust is not unfounded, with police often failing to respond appropriately or even singling out trans people for violence.


Violence and Discrimination Against Black Transgender Women of Color


The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, misogyny, and homophobia lead to extraordinary levels of discrimination and violence against Black trans women.


They are far more likely than most other people to experience serious barriers to good health care and employment, and far more likely to experience violent murder. In a particularly devastating week last year, one transgender Black woman was found dead nearly every day over a nine-day period.


The dehumanization of trans women of color begins with anti-trans stigma. Denial of opportunity prevents their full participation in society. And all the issues trans women face—from cultural marginalization to police brutality—are made worse by racism and sexism.


One analysis found that Black transgender people fared worse than transgender people of all other races. They had twice the rate of unemployment as the overall transgender population studied and four times the rate of the general population.


The same analysis found that more than four in 10 transgender people had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. This is more than five times the rate of the general population.


Thirty-four percent of Black trans people reported a household income of less than $10,000. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races and eight times the rate of the general US population.


The pervasive racism and bigotry Black trans people face takes a huge psychological toll. Nearly half of all Black transgender respondents report being harassed at work and at school. Nearly half (49 percent) reported having attempted suicide.


How You Can Help


Eliminating violence against trans women and men isn’t someone else’s problem—the trans community and the advocacy organizations that work on their behalf need your help.


There are many ways to be a good ally. You can show up at rallies on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. You can donate to organizations that help Black trans folks.


You can also support The Equality Act, which would expand federal civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, in public spaces, and more.Urge your senator to pass the Equality Act and support pro-LGBTQ+ legislation in your state.


Marchers waving Trans Support flags at a visibility rally


Want to know more about the issues affecting the Black trans community?


Check out DCP’s inspiring and thought-provoking podcasts. Start with Make It Plain, a podcast covering politics, breaking news, and social justice issues, hosted by Mark Thompson.


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