Death Sentence? The Public Perception of Transgender Women of Color
11 months ago
Persistence in murder rate indicates gross lack of public empathy for LGBT’s minority
“I go to meetings and I get hugs, I get kisses from transgender individuals,” Moura said. “They know I do my work because I care. And it’s not just a broken promise. I get invited to events as a Los Angeles police officer, when before they didn’t want an officer anywhere near. Their doors were closed to the LAPD.”
The Minority Within the Minority
Similar groundwork is needed within the LGBT community, advocates say.
“When people are fighting for women’s rights, they’re not so much fighting for trans women’s rights,” Mock said. “And when people are fighting for civil rights for black people, they’re not fighting for the rights of trans women of color.”
Pearson agrees and noted the larger LGBT movement’s focus on non-emergency issues for transgender people.
“These folks were poor, therefore they were on the margins,” Pearson said of the murder victims. “The problem is that the LGBT movement has been aligned with middle class aspirations.”
Neither Pearson nor Mock seeks to diminish the good work being done by many LGBT organizations. Mock only wishes for a day when young transgender girls aren’t subjected to constant reminders of violence.
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“We internalize a lot of the bad things that are happening to us,” Mock said. “We must heighten the visibility of the amazing transgender women of color.”
Mock points to Isis King, the transgender ‘America’s Next Top Model” contestant and current American Apparel model; Laverne Cox, a working transgender actress; Reina Gossett, a transgender activist with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project; and Monica Roberts, an award-winning writer and transgender activist.
“But these people can only do so much,” Mock said.
Certainly, more can be done to ensure women of color aren’t disproportionately represented on the list of deceased:
Brandy Martell, 37, of Oakland, was shot to death in May; Paige Clay, 23, of Chicago, was shot to death in April; Coko Williams, 35, of Detroit, had her throat slit in April; Dee Dee Pearson, 31, of Kansas City, was shot to death on Christmas Eve; Chassity Vickers, 32, of Hollywood, Calif., was shot to death in November of 2011; and Shelley Hilliard, 19, of Detroit, was decapitated and burned in October of 2011.
For a more names, visit the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website.