Transgender murders in North and South America in July occurred at a rate almost 50 percent higher than that of gays and lesbians according to a new study.
These findings were based on statistics released by the Organization of American States and included incidents from Canada, the United States, Central America and South America. The report found that in the month of July alone, 39 people were murdered: 23 transgender people and 16 gays and lesbians.
For perspective on this gap, the NewCivilRightsMovement noted that only .3 percent of the U.S. population openly identifies as transgender, while 3.5 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. The outlet added,
To be clear, any murder is one murder too many. And it’s important to remember that each number represents a person. So when gays and lesbians outnumber transgender people about six to one, yet transgender people are being murdered at a rate that’s about 50 percent more than the murder rate for gays and lesbians, well, it’s beyond comprehension.
The reality of this comparison evidences a much larger problem in terms of cultural intolerance and violence against transgender individuals. While conversations about transgender identity continue to seep into the public consciousness, most recently when Chelsea Manning came out of the closet, mainstream culture is still far from accepting, validating and protecting trans individuals.
Last month, a mob chopped and stabbed 17-year-old Dwayne Jones, a gender non-conforming teenager, to death at a party in Jamaica. More recently, a disturbing video made its rounds on the Internet that depicted a group of men brutalizing and humiliating a transgender woman in a public park in Russia. A bystander that witnessed the event did nothing to intervene. Most recently, Islan Nettles, a transgender woman and NYC resident, was savagely beaten to death in Harlem.
These incidents of transgender violence barely begin to scratch the surface of not only physical violence against trans people, but the emotional and verbal abuse trans individuals, particularly trans women of color, experience on a daily basis. Vigils for slain transgender women and men have to be organized on an alarmingly regular basis, both locally and abroad.
For more information on how you can become involved in countering violence against transgender people, check out organizations such as the Anti-Violence Project, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and The Audre Lorde Project.