Wake Up: Black Trans Lives Matter

Bree Black, Merci Mack, Monika Diamond, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and Summer Taylor. The list of names can go on, but these are 8 names out of, at least, 21 transgender or gender non-conforming people who have been fatally shot or killed by other forms of violence. All of these people are Black, and majority of the names on the list so far are Black transgender women. This has been an ongoing issue in our community, with 2019 having at least 27 deaths. Why are we so complacent with our own Black brothers and sisters being killed? The answer is transphobia and misogyny. 

Singer and activist Mila Jam raises her fist at a Black Lives Matter protest near the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 16.
 (Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

These victims had friends, families and communities who loved and embraced them, but their deaths have not been acknowledged properly and their need for justice has not been fought for. A similar case can be seen with Breonna Taylor. The fight for her justice has been turned into a meme behind tweets and instagram posts that serve no purpose and making songs for popularity, but Breonna Taylor’s death still goes swept under the carpet. 

Our problem is that we don’t take the deaths of cisgender and transgender women seriously and it’s time we start. 

For transgender women, we’ve allowed people to misgender or deadname them. Deadnaming is the act of calling someone by their given name instead of the name they’ve chosen. Misgendering is the act of purposefully referring to them by the gender they were assigned at birth. That means saying, “Trans women aren’t women” is misgendering, and very transphobic!

Protesters dancing and marching in support of black trans people in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 14 (shot by Demetrius Freeman for the NYT)

With my own personal experience, I was not fully aware of my sexuality as a gay man until I was 16. To this day, at the age of 21 and to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t met anyone who identifies as transgender or non-conforming. According to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey in 2016, 35% of likely voters in the US knew or worked with someone who is transgender. In 2014, that number was 17%. But, I’ve done the work to learn and see trans people for who they are: people. I know I’ll continue to fight for them and continue to teach and encourage friends and family to do the same. If I, and others, can do the work as young adults, YOU can do it at your big age.

It shouldn’t take knowing someone who doesn’t share your identities to encourage you to fight for them. Everyone deserves to live because everyone’s life matters. Pushing violence on social media is the reason why at least 48 transgender or non-conforming people in the US have died. Trans women continue to fight for us, those who identify as straight and those who identify as LGBTQ+, so we need to do the same. Please get informed and help end the violence against them.

Ways to Stand with LGBTQ+ Youth

If you don’t know where to donate, Donate to HRC

If you don’t know where to donate, Donate to Black Lives Matter

Hason is a Senior at Eastern Connecticut State University studying Communications and Political Science. follow him on Twitter: @sawwny & Instagram: @sawnyy

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