Trans rights are human rights

Transgender people are far too often excluded from discussions of equality and human rights. Recent social movements neglect to tackle the issue of trans oppression. Minority groups that face discrimination everyday contribute to the normalization of transphobia. Minorities and other oppressed groups should understand that equality will never be achieved unless trans rights are acknowledged.

The statistics surrounding crimes against the trans community are highly disturbing. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the number of transgender people killed in 2020 surpassed the 2019 total in only seven months. At least 28 trans people were killed after only the first seven months of 2020 compared to 26 killed in the entirety of 2019.

These hate crimes prove that society is not advancing toward equality. The idea that we are making progress toward abandoning discrimination is an illusion. Equality must include the equal treatment of trans people.

Minority communities often fail to acknowledge transphobia as a form of discrimination. As a result, trangender racial minorities are left unprotected. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, of the 26 transgender people killed in 2020, 19 were People of Color (POC). Furthermore, 13 of those murdered were Black.

These tragedies should be a prominent topic alongside the discussion of racially motivated killings. These fatal hate crimes are just as significant as those that receive outpours of grief and media attention. 

As I researched these 26 killings that occurred within a seven-month span,  I realized I heard little to nothing about these crimes from the media. 

According to ABC News, Tony McDade was a Black trans man shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida. McDade was shot only two days after the killing of George Floyd. His name should have chanted alongside the other victims of brutal police shootings. Brayla Stone was also one of the 26 killed. Stone was a child. A 17-year-old girl was killed and yet no major news outlets picked up on the story.

This is not the first time the killing of a Black person was given little media coverage. This was, however, one of few times that the Black community did not come together to raise awareness of a Black woman’s death. Not only did I see little media coverage on the Stone’s murder, but I also saw almost nothing on Black social media spaces about the incident. 

Stone’s gender identity does not warrant such a lack of sympathy from the Black community, which should have served as a safe haven. Stone suffered through the oppressions of being Black, trans and alienated from the Black community. 

Not only do trans POC face discrimination from the racial communites they belong to, but they also face a particulary cruel form of police brutality. 

According to CBS News, Bree Black was shot and killed July 3 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Black, like many of the trans people killed or attacked this year, was an African American woman. No suspect was identified. No witnesses came forward, despite the fact that the killing took place near a crowded celebration. Black’s case was neglected by police and investigators.

This injustice should have angered the Black community just as much as the other brutal killings being protested. Instead, a Black trans woman was once again neglected by her own people. 

Police have a long history of neglecting the investigations of hate crimes against trans people. As most of these cases involve trans POC, this should have been a prominent topic within the Black Lives Matter movement. 

As a Black woman, I have seen firsthand how transphobic my community can be. I refuse to pretend that this behavior is acceptable. We need to have conversations about the treatment of trans people. Often, people avoid conversations that go against the beliefs of the communities they belong to. This is not justifiable when compliance results in murder.

Transphobia cannot be dismissed. These conversations will save lives. I know that I cannot single-handedly end trans discrimination, but these conversations are a starting point. 

The next step can be donating to charities that benefit Black trans folk like the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. This organization challenges transphobic institutions by offering support directly to these people through employment. 

The trans community deserves a voice in all human rights movements. The normalization of transphobia within minority communities is highly hypocritical. We cannot demand equality while simultaneously contributing to the discrimination of trans people.