Murders of three trans women in Texas underline increasing dangers across US

Three black trans women have been killed in Texas since October, and activists believe that attacks are on the rise due to a hostile political climate

The transgender community in Dallas was still grieving for Muhlaysia Booker when news broke last week that the body of Chynal Lindsey had been found in a lake, making her the second black trans woman murdered in the city in the space of a fortnight.

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    Three black trans women in their 20s have now been killed in the city since last October, when Brittany White was discovered fatally shot in a vehicle. Booker was found face down on a Dallas street on 18 May, five weeks after cellphone footage of her enduring a sustained beating in front of a jeering crowd went viral.

    I think were still coping with being shocked, were still in our mourning process of just laying to rest Muhlaysia Booker, said Carmarion Anderson, the executive director of Black Transwomen Inc, a support group in Dallas.

    Were seeing that another young black trans woman has been found murdered, it has alarmed us, were scared, I believe that were angry, were looking for answers, looking for a place of refuge. Our emotions are just pretty much all over the place, she said.

    You cant help but hold in the forefront [of your mind], whos going to be next? Will it be me? Or will it be another one of our black trans sisters? So theres a lot of fear thats going on, a lot of anxiety, trying to watch our surroundings.

    Bookers funeral was held last week at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, which is said to have the biggest LGBTQ congregation in the world. She was beautiful. She was so beautiful, her mother, Stephanie Houston, said during the ceremony, standing at the altar next to a blue coffin adorned with flowers.

    Her back has been against the wall so many times and thats one of the reasons I didnt want her to be who she was, because its already hard for a black man. Then a black gay man that wants to be transgender? Ive seen all the hate and all the stuff she went through.

    Other black trans women have been attacked in Dallas in recent years. In April a woman was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead but survived. The decomposed body of Shade Schuler, 22, was located in a field in 2015, and the remains of another woman were discovered in 2017. None of the cases have been solved. Karla Flores-Pavon, a 26-year-old Hispanic trans woman, was strangled in a Dallas apartment in May last year. Police arrested a man and said the motive was robbery.

    The attacks in the Texan metropolis underline the dangers faced by trans people across the country, with trans people of color in southern states especially vulnerable.

    Lindsey appears to be the eighth black trans woman killed in the US this year, according to information collected by the Human Rights Campaign. It tracked 26 deaths among all races in 2018, 29 killings in 2017 and 23 in 2016, though it is hard to be definitive because police and media reports sometimes mis-gender victims and not all deaths may be publicly known.

    Three black trans women were shot dead in Jacksonville, Florida, last year, raising fears of a serial killer, though police said the murders were unrelated.

    In Dallas, police have said there are certain similarities between some of the crimes but have not established a clear link.

    Activists believe that attacks are on the rise and much of the blame lies with a hostile political climate.

    The evangelical movement and conservative movement were feeling like they needed a victory in the culture war so they decided to start picking on trans folks starting in about 2015, said Monica Roberts, a black trans woman, writer and advocate from Houston. That year, the US supreme court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move that was celebrated by many but left some social conservatives aghast.

    Since his election win in 2016, Donald Trumps White House which is heavily supported by religious conservatives has moved to roll back Obama-era protections for trans people in the military, in healthcare, in schools and in homeless shelters.

    Ever since the Trump administration came in it has been increasing, she said. Youre putting all this hatred out, it doesnt just go away in a vacuum, people will act on it. And they have been.

    Muhlaysia Booker speaks during a rally in Dallas on 20 April 2019. Photograph: Ryan Michalesko/AP

    Hate-related homicides of LGBTQ people have risen sharply in recent years, according to a 2018 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, with young female trans people of colour at high risk.

    In 2015, voters in Houston overwhelmingly rejected a wide-ranging equal rights ordinance that would have extended protections to trans people after opponents campaigned using the slogan no men in womens bathrooms and claimed, without evidence, that the law would be a gift to sexual predators.

    Two years later, the Texas legislature came close to passing a bathroom bill to restrict access to public toilets based on biological sex.

    A similar measure was introduced in North Carolina in 2016 but partially repealed after a backlash.

    Our elected officials, whether they be local or national, have been insinuating that trans people dont deserve the same equality as everybody else, said Lou Weaver, transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas, an advocacy group. What kind of message is this sending out to people? That our lives are expendable.

    Trans people face barriers to finding well-paid, secure jobs in Texas, as in many other states, it is legal under state law to fire employees based on their sexuality meaning that they may have little choice but to live and work in unsafe situations.

    We know that when trans women are forced into doing sex work to survive theyre more vulnerable, Moore said.

    Oak Lawn, the epicentre of Dallas gay community, is also rapidly gentrifying, forcing out some long-time residents.

    We cant afford to stay in those areas where we feel the most protected, Anderson said. Because of the gentrification we are being kicked out to areas where we have no clue if were going to be safe.

    We dont have equitable access to resources Were marginalized on top of being marginalized, said Kayla Gore, a black trans woman who is southern regional organizer for the Transgender Law Center.

    Gore said she has been the target of several attacks, including being robbed at gunpoint after leaving a nightclub in Dallas.

    Its always been black trans women who have been most vulnerable, most likely to face this violence, said Mariah Moore, an African American trans activist. She said that in 2014 she jumped from the third storey of a Dallas apartment building to escape a stranger who was shooting at her, presumably because he wanted to rob her and thought that she would be an easy target.

    Ive had a perfect stranger try to erase me with violence and we have [a president] whos supposed to be here protecting this country and providing equity and equality for all whos trying to erase me with legislation, she said. So how safe am I every day of my life? Not very.

    Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific


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