Transgender Women Are Being Murdered, Few Arrests Made: Study

Since 2014, at least 110 transgender women have been killed, according to the Human Rights Campaign – but only 42 percent of those murder investigations actually arrested someone. And yet, about 61 percent of murder cases across the general public results in an arrest, according to the FBI.

The statistics only get scarier. Eighty-eight of those 110 known murders of transgender women were Black, according to a VICE News analysis of the known cases. Eleven trans victims were identified as Latinx.

While most murders are of Black transgender women, only 16 percent of transgender people identify as Black. Around 55 percent of transgender adults identify as white and  21 percent identify as Latinx, according to a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Investigations and arrests in the murders of cisgender Black women also fare worse than the general population. Only about 55 percent of investigations result in an arrest when cis Black women are killed. That’s more than in transgender cases but still lower than it should be.

Why the disparities in arrest rates? 

Three main factors that many experts and community members can agree on are:

  • Distrust of law enforcement in the trans community, especially among people of color
  • A greater percentage of the transgender community is involved in sex work than other demographics, putting them at heightened risk of violence
  • The belief that law enforcement doesn’t care

“The lives of Black people are viewed as disposable in our society, and the lives of trans people are viewed as disposable,” Avery Belyeu, regional director of Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, told Vice News. “So when you have that intersection of black identity in America and transgender identity, it’s not surprising that in our system, these things are not prioritized oftentimes.”

The number of transgender people murdered since 2014 is likely much higher than reported because police frequently mis-gender the victim and refer to their prior name or “deadname”.

ProPublica found that in 74 of 85 transgender murder cases between 2015 and August 2018, police initially “deadnamed” victims.


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