The first four months of 2021 have been among the worst on record for transgender individuals. States like Texas are threatening parents of transgender children with jail for supporting their children’s medical needs. Arkansas has passed what the ACLU has called the “single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.” In total, more than 127 different anti-transgender bills are currently up for debate in statehouses across the country. And now comes news from the Human Rights Campaign that trans murders are up 100% over this time last year — which was already the deadliest year on record.
Kate Sosin of nonprofit newsroom The 19th has reported on the HRC report, saying that “by mid-April of last year, advocates had tracked six transgender murders. This year, that number is up to 14. … The victims are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, eight of them Black trans women. LGBTQ+ advocates say that the coronavirus pandemic and the spate of anti-trans bills have pushed a population already facing a crisis of violence to the brink.”
In an interview with Sosin, Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said that the increased attacks on transgender individuals from state legislatures are giving people the message that trans people are “‘less than,’ and that it’s OK to treat them inhumanely.”
More than 127 different anti-transgender bills are currently up for debate in statehouses across the country.
“Oh, well, you know, this person is trans; they don’t really count,” Kirby York explained, theorizing what many people seem to be thinking. “I can do whatever [and] nothing’s going to happen. Even our government doesn’t like them.”
According to Sosin, groups like the New York City Anti-Violence Project have watched year after year as reports of trans homicides surged. And the problem only appears to worsen as state officials cast increased negativity on transgender individuals and their lives and stories.
“In 2017, [the] organization reported the deadliest year ever, with 27 trans people murdered. [In 2020], that number hit 44,” Sosin reported.
Trans rights advocates warn that the problem is only made worse by the fact that “transgender people continue to disproportionately face joblessness, homelessness and lack of access to food and health care in the pandemic.” Sosin also reported that “transgender people who don’t have gender-affirming medical care may seek transition-related hormones on the street or turn to sex work to fund that care or survive, further putting them at risk.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality has found that transgender people are three times more likely to face unemployment than cisgender individuals.
Although President Biden has repeatedly expressed his commitment to trans rights and equality and passed an executive order to that effect upon taking office, he hasn’t yet waded into the swath of hate-filled anti-trans legislation currently being promoted across the country — some of which seems to have become more severe and more aggressive following his actions.
What Biden’s administration and other advocacy rights groups do to reverse the trend and fight the wave of anti-trans rhetoric remains to be seen. But judging from where things stand currently, it’s clear something needs to be done quickly before more rights — and lives — are lost.