While I am a bit annoyed that many in the LGB community waited until marriage equality was secured before turning their attention to tans issues, I do welcome all support. This article by Ed Pilkington in New York writing for The Guardian looks at the issue of violence against transgender individuals. Here are the opening paragraphs…
Advocates for transgender rights are hoping that last week’s historic US supreme court ruling on gay marriage will pave the way to renewed public focus on what they see as a national crisis of violence, sexual assault and custodial abuse against trans individuals.
So far this year alone, at least nine trans women have been murdered, putting 2015 on track to be one of the most violent periods for transgender individuals in recent times. In the most recent incident, the body of a 17-year-old trans woman called Mercedes Williamson was found last month hidden under the brush in a desolate area of southern Mississippi, reportedly displaying stab wounds.
The grim discovery was made just three weeks before last Friday’s ruling that flung open the doors across all 50 states to same-sex marriage. Leaders of the transgender community see the murder as a reminder amid the nationwide rejoicing that despite the extraordinary leap forward made last week, there are many people still in great danger in today’s United States.
Advocacy groups hope that the same public focus and enthusiasm for change that produced such an irresistible surge in support for gay marriage will now coalesce behind their decades-old struggle for trans equality. They are loth to describe the fight as a new frontline – fearing that would belittle the hard work that has been waged over many years largely out of the limelight.
But they think the time has now come for a push to reverse extreme discrimination that continues to put lives at risk. “Clearly gay marriage has been a cause of great celebration,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “But it’s critical to remember that many members of our community cannot celebrate when they are struggling to survive on a daily basis.”
Top of the list of priorities articulated by transgender groups is the ongoing epidemic of violence faced particularly by black trans women. Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said that hate violence was running at levels that rendered it a national crisis.
“The issue is so urgent as the harm is so severe. We have to deal with it better than we have,” he said.