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What Effect Did Brandon Teena's Death Have On The Trans Community?

Teena's murder was a "seminal moment in our organized trans movement," Mara Keisling tells HuffPost Live.

When Brandon Teena, a 21-year-old transgender man living in Nebraska, was brutally murdered because of his gender identity in 1993, it felt like a "new story," Mara Keisling, executive director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, told HuffPost Live. But while such tragic endings had been, and continue to be, part of trans history, Teena's death became a "focus of activism."

Keisling explained to host Alex Miranda earlier this week -- as part of our coverage of October's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history month -- that while Teena's death doesn't reflect those who are often the most vulnerable within the community, it pushed advocacy forward.

"It's not, I think, lost on most of us today that this was a white, trans, masculine-identified person, and that's still not the most common story about violence in our community. But it did become a focus of activism," Keisling said. "There were a lot of folks from places like Transexual Menace and GenderPAC and others who went to Nebraska and then took that message and took that organizing to other places. And it was really a seminal moment in a lot of ways in our organized trans movement that still exists today."

A lot of the recent momentum around protecting the trans community has been in support of trans women of color who experience disproportionate rates of violence, according to Lourdes Hunter, the national director at Trans Women of Color Collective. She gave HuffPost Live a chilling first-hand account of her own experience.

"We wake up every day in a world that is designed to erase us off the face of the earth," Hunter said. "We wake up in a world that tells us we have no value, that we're worth being discarded. And it's reenforced by systems of oppression -- the media, police department, even legislation."

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