Laverne Cox Talks Deadly Violence Against Black Transgender Women

“As we celebrate Pride ... we also have to remember that there’s so much work that needs to be done,” the activist said.

Laverne Cox addressed the troubling realities surrounding the violence against and murders of black transgender women during a recent interview with BuzzFeed’s “AM2DM.”

The “Orange is the New Black” star talked about the disproportionate rate of violence against transgender people, particularly black transgender women, during the sit-down interview released Friday.

“As we celebrate Pride, and there’s so many things to celebrate, we also have to remember that there’s so much work that needs to be done,” she said during the interview, which coincided with the celebration of WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City.

Cox, a longtime activist on preventing violence against trans people, also addressed the recent murders of black transgender women.

Last month, 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker, a black trans woman who was brutally beaten by a mob the month prior, was found shot to death in Dallas. Chynal Lindsey, a black 26-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in a lake in Dallas earlier this month and just weeks after Booker was found dead.

The Human Rights Campaign identified Booker and Lindsey as two of at least 11 black transgender people who were killed this year.

The devastating list includes, Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Michelle “Tamika” Washington, Paris Cameron and Chanel Scurlock, according to the organization.

In 2013, Cox declared the violence against the trans community an “emergency” in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

“It is a state of emergency for trans and gender-nonconforming people in this country, but the emergency remains almost invisible since the trans population is relatively small and our identities are constantly disavowed, our voices silenced,” she wrote.

Cox told The Cut last year that she felt “survivor’s guilt” when she graced the cover of Time in 2014, considering the higher rates of violence against trans people.

“The month I was on the cover of Time magazine, five trans women were killed,” she told the publication. “So I felt a lot of survivor’s guilt. A feeling like, Why me? I felt an obligation, so that year I said yes to a lot of things.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality found in 2015 that transgender and nonbinary people faced higher rates of unemployment, violence and psychological distress due to widespread societal stigma.

When asked in Friday’s “AM2DM” interview how she would like to hear people talk about the issues concerning transgender people, Cox said that she aims to address both the victories and continued adversities within the trans community.

“I try to be in a ‘both and’ place, in the place of celebrating Indya Moore being on the cover of Elle magazine or Janet Mock having this landmark deal at Netflix ... but then also acknowledging ... and particularly for black trans women, that their lives are being taken away from them simply for being who they are ― or because of various intersectional issues,” she said.

She added, “If you are homeless, if you don’t have access to employment or health care, you’re more likely to experience violence. So those systemic things have to be dealt with.”

Cox later addressed cisgender men who are violent against transgender women: “Your attraction to me as a trans woman is not a reason to kill me.”

Watch Cox’s entire interview with BuzzFeed’s “AM2DM” in the clip above.

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