By Dubian Ade
Trans women of color are in danger. Kandis Capri. Elisha Walker. Ashton O Hara. All trans women of color whose murders have surfaced within a twenty four hour period. From the time this article was written 19 trans women had been killed since January of this year. 17 of them have been trans women of color. The most recent being Tamara Dominguez who was killed as recently as August 17th when an SUV repeatedly ran her over. The death toll is increasing this very second.
And these are only the killings that are reported.
The onslaught of violence leveled at trans woman, and specifically trans woman of color has reached ghastly proportions in 2015, and has already surpassed homicide numbers in 2014, which saw 14 trans deaths.
The most disturbing thing about these killings is the deafening silence that has fallen upon news media outlets and activists alike even as issues affecting trans womenof color begin to surface.
Issues regarding trans women of color must be understood with regards to patriarchy, racism, transphobia and transmisogyny. And they must be understood as structural.
According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Black transgender people are eight times more likely to live in extreme poverty in the United States. This is compounded by their status as people of color (in 2013 about 27.2% of Blacks and 25.6% of Latinos were in poverty according to the United States Census Bureau).
This is compounded even further for trans women of color who are who experience the violence of systemic gendering through housing, employment, and public accommodation discrimination.
Trans women of color are more likely to be in poverty not only because of their status as a people of color and not only because of their status as women but also because of institutionalized transphobia and discrimination preventing them from being employed, and having decent housing.
Due to systemic marginalization many are forced into jobs as sex workers, a dangerous line of work dominated by cist-hetero male aggression and patrolled by war-on-drugs policing. Many are subjected to sexual abuse and increasingly violent run-ins with men and police.
This past March, Mya Hall, a trans woman of color was shot and killed by a security guard in Baltimore after making a wrong turn into NSA headquarters. The silence regarding this killing is appalling: this too was an instance of policing violence along with the killings of Freddy Gray, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. Discussions regarding black lives must be decentered from male dominance and allow for Mya Hall's name to be raised to the surface along with the many more names of trans women of color who have been killed this year.
#SAYHERNAME is a movement that seeks to shed light on the violence leveled at women and trans women of color. #SAYHERNAME aims to bring the names of those women who were martyred to the forefront in an effort to support a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice that centers all lives of color equally. Due to their work, issues regarding trans women of color are gaining more exposure.
During the Black Lives Matter convening in Ohio, a group of insurgent trans and non-conforming people of color righteously inserted themselves into the conference discussion to confront anti-trans and transphobia sentiments among black and brown audience members. They did so because it was a matter of survival.
Trans women of color are in danger. For too long we have sat by and allowed the violence against trans bodies of color to go unreported and unrecognized. By the end of this article we would have already learned more names of the martyred. To them, we say rest in power.