GA Voice - - Georgianews -

While sev­eral high-pro­file po­lice shoot­ings have dom­i­nated the me­dia fo­cus through 2016, in an­other, dim­mer spot­light, a dif­fer­ent cri­sis has been un­fold­ing: that of trans­gen­der men and women be­ing killed for lit­tle more than ex­press­ing their gender iden­tity.

They in­clude artists and nurses, teens and empty nesters, per­sons of color and other­wise – all united by a form of vi­o­lence trans­gen­der ad­vo­cates agree is at an all-time high.

It’s more than a pass­ing trend, it’s a so­cial storm, say or­ga­niz­ers of this year’s Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance, which will honor the fallen with a vigil and key­note this month. Or­ga­niz­ers hope to draw at­ten­tion to the im­pact of vi­o­lence in the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity and fos­ter re­silience in a po­lit­i­cal and so­cial cli­mate where it’s needed most.

“We’re liv­ing in a state of emer­gency,” said ac­tivist Tracee McDaniel, whose Jux­ta­posed Cen­ter for Trans­for­ma­tion has or­ga­nized At­lanta’s ver­sion of the event since 2007. “There is a storm that is hap­pen­ing, and re­gard­less of what’s go­ing on and how our com­mu­nity is be­ing tar­geted and mur­dered, we are sur­viv­ing.”

Trans­gen­der mur­ders at epi­demic lev­els

The “Sur­viv­ing the Storm” Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance Vigil will be held at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity, and will fea­ture a key­note from Ge­or­gia Equal­ity Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Jeff Gra­ham. There will also be a trib­ute to Ch­eryl Court­ney-Evans, the pi­o­neer­ing trans­gen­der ac­tivist who died of can­cer last month.

The event, spon­sored by a coali­tion of At­lanta LGBT groups, is one of sev­eral be­ing held across the coun­try this Novem­ber. It comes as trans­gen­der mur­ders reach epi­demic lev­els across the coun­try.

At least 20 trans­gen­der men and women have been fa­tally shot, stabbed or other­wise suc­cumbed to vi­o­lence in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, which re­ported 21 – an all-time-high- in 2015. The Hu­man Rights Cam­paign re­ports that at least 20 trans­gen­der men and women have been killed this year. They re­ported 21 mur­ders – an all-time high – in 2015. “We re­ally have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look out and stand as al­lies for our trans­gen­der broth­ers and sis­ters. So much of the ha­tred that is thrown at trans­gen­der peo­ple these days is very sim­i­lar to the ha­tred that was thrown at peo­ple be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion 10, 20 or 30 years ago.”

Dee Whigham, 25, a trans­gen­der woman and reg­is­tered nurse found robbed and stabbed to death in a Mis­sis­sippi ho­tel. Dwanya Hick­er­son, 20, a Navy sea­man, has been charged with cap­i­tal mur­der in the death.

Trans­man Amos Beede, 38, at­tacked and beaten to death in a Burling­ton, VT home­less camp, re­ported CNN.

Forty-three-year-old Austin transwoman Mon­ica Lo­era, shot fol­low­ing an ar­gu­ment, ac­cord­ing to the Austin Amer­i­can Statesman.

Vic­tims in­clude hate crime vic­tims as well as those vic­tim­ized by peo­ple they knew.

‘Very real is­sue’ of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in trans com­mu­nity

That the vi­o­lence is on the rise is clear. But the an­swers as to why are more elu­sive.

“It’s hard to say – there’s a lot of pho­bia and a lot of ha­tred,” said McDaniel, who added that

Novem­ber 11, 2016

the di­vi­sive rhetoric of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial election aided in bring­ing a lot of the lin­ger­ing bi­ases shared by ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans to light.

At the same time, she said there re­mains a very real is­sue of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the trans com­mu­nity.

“Some of the mur­ders are be­ing com­mit­ted by in­ti­mate part­ners,” she said. “Some of the mur­ders are be­ing com­mit­ted by a per­son who has a de­sire to be with a trans per­son.”

Po­lice say such was the case with Quar­t­ney Davia Daw­sonn-Yochum, 32, shot to death by her ex-boyfriend on a Los An­ge­les street this past March.

Ge­or­gia one of five states with­out hate crime law

While McDaniel was at a loss for the cause of the vi­o­lence, she said one key way to make change is clear – anti-hate crime leg­is­la­tion. Ge­or­gia re­mains one of five states with­out

‘Sur­viv­ing The Storm’ Trans­gen­der Day of Re­mem­brance Vigil

Sun­day, Nov. 20, 2016 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity 55 Gilmer St. SE At­lanta, GA 30303 www.face­ events/735475363268871


hate crime laws on the books, a sta­tus that has shown no signs of change since last year’s vigil.

“We have not made any progress,” said McDaniel who was nonethe­less con­fi­dent change would come. “Hope­fully our leg­is­la­tors will be­gin to fo­cus on mak­ing sure that trans peo­ple are pro­tected.”

Where leg­is­la­tors fail, it’s up to the rest of the LGBT com­mu­nity to step in and speak up, said Ge­or­gia Equal­ity head Jeff Gra­ham. He called the ten­dency for gays and les­bians to feel sep­a­rate from trans­gen­der is­sues “mis­guided.”

“We re­ally have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to look out and stand as al­lies for our trans­gen­der broth­ers and sis­ters,” he said. “So much of the ha­tred that is thrown at trans­gen­der peo­ple these days is very sim­i­lar to the ha­tred that was thrown at peo­ple be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion 10, 20 or 30 years ago.”

Gra­ham called trans­gen­der vi­o­lence a fo­cus is­sue of Ge­or­gia Equal­ity; just over a year ago, the ad­vo­cacy group hired a trans­gen­der com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer.

De­spite the vi­o­lence, McDaniel sees ar­eas of hope. For one, she said she was en­cour­aged by ar­rests and an in­creas­ing sense of se­ri­ous­ness that the jus­tice sys­tem is show­ing to­ward per­pe­tra­tors of anti-trans crimes. She re­mained hope­ful that a new pres­i­dent would con­tinue build­ing the LGBT-friendly bridges of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, and joined Gra­ham in hopes that these things, com­bined with the high pro­file of trans­gen­der women like Janet Mock and Lav­erne Cox, are signs that trans­gen­der peo­ple are grad­u­ally en­ter­ing the main­stream.

“We’ve seen greater lev­els of ac­cep­tance,” Gra­ham said. “That comes with greater lev­els of un­der­stand­ing the re­al­ity of who trans­gen­der peo­ple are – that they are peo­ple just like any­one else.”

Vic­tims in­clude:

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