The community has now entered what Laverne Cox called a “state of emergency” while black trans women are particularly suffering
When the 13th transgender woman was killed in the US we hit a terrifying reality: more transgender women have been murdered so far in 2015 than last year. While trans visibility has never been higher in mainstream media, it’s also a dangerous time to be a trans woman – especially a trans woman of colour.
The body of Shade Schuler, 22, was discovered dumped in Dallas on July 29 in such a decomposed state that it took two weeks to identify her. Even now, the Dallas police department continues to misidentify Schuler as a male on its website.
We’re only in August. Already the total of transgender murders this year has gone beyond the 12 killed in 2014. Papi Edwards, Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Yazmin Vash Payne, Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, Penny Proud, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, London Chanel, Mercedes Williamson, India Clarke, K.C. Haggard, Amber Monroe and now, sadly, Shade Schuler, have all been murdered.
And these are just the homicides we know of. As the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reports, there are two additional murders of trans or gender non-conforming people in 2015 in which the clear motive has not been established.
Significantly there is a strong racial bias which puts black trans women at far greater risk. Of the 13 trans women who have been murdered, 11 were African American.
Trans women with the opportunity to speak on public platforms have spoken out about this issue. Laverne Cox announced a “state of emergency” for the trans community and tweeted two days ago about the death of Shade Schuler.
there's a violent + blatant discrepancy between the way white trans women and trans women of color are treated in the united states— hari nef (@harinef) July 22, 2015
my (trans) career is going well right now while other trans women are dying! give all of us a platform and not just the lucky girls— hari nef (@harinef) July 22, 2015
Caitlyn Jenner has also spread awareness, sharing a blog post commemorating murdered trans women India Clarke and K.C. Haggard.
Trans women, particularly women of colour, must be able to their their lives without fear. There is now a petition on the White House’s website asking the government to formally investigate these strains of hatred that are leading to a rising death toll. With four and a half months left of 2015, it’s hard not to ask the difficult question: How many more lives need to be brutally lost for significant investigation to be undertaken?