Two transgender women were found murdered in America on Thursday, in two separate killings.
It’s a dreadful year for hate crimes against trans people in the states. The women were the 17th and 18th fatal victims since the start of 2018.
In the early hours of the morning Vontashia Bell was found with fatal gunshot wounds, in the street in the city of Shreveport in Louisiana. She was 18.
The police misgendered Vontashia in their early crime reports, which was then reflected in media coverage of the crime.
Later the same day 24 year old Dejanay Stanton was murdered with a single gunshot to the head in Chicago.
Last year was the worst on record in the states for the murder of transgender people. There were an average of more than two killings a month. So far 2018 is looking even worse.
Time to act
According to the Human Rights Campaign report “A Time To Act” there were at least 25 murders of transgender people in the United States during 2017. The real figure may be higher, these are just the cases the organisation was made aware of.
HRC has kept records of violence against transgender people since 2013. It says that Louisiana, where Vontashia Bell was murdered, has the worst record of any state in America.
“Systematic devaluation of trans people”
Transgender people of colour are particularly at risk in America. The report says that well over 80 per cent of the transgender people murdered there last year were people of colour.
“Dehumanizing language and actions lower the barriers to this kind of senseless violence”, says the trans campaigning organisation Louisiana Trans Advocates.
It urges leaders in the state to “speak out against the ongoing, systematic devaluation of trans people that pervades our media and politics”.
Blame is also laid on politicians by the Human Rights Campaign, who appear to aim their remarks at President Trump. They say “when the flames of hate and discrimination are fanned by those at the very highest levels of government, the consequences can be deadly”.
President Trump has set-back transgender rights many times since he came to office. His administration has issued a ban on most transgender people serving in the military, stopped inmates using cells and toilets which match their gender, and ruled that anti-discrimination rules no longer apply to transgendered workers.
Picture credits: Vontashia Bell from Louisiana Trans Advocates, Dejanay Stanton from her Facebook profile