With few arrests, suspects or motives, WTF is going on?
The year 2015 set a chilling record: 21 transgender people were murdered across the US. Then came 2016 to break that record by leaps and bounds, with 27 such murders on the books. Now?—?unfortunately for anyone who cares about freedom, democracy or just basic safety?—?2017 is set to shatter that dismal record nearly two times over.
Since Jan. 1, seven transgender people have been murdered in separate attacks. All of them were trans women of color. So far police have only made one arrest. In many of the killings, they haven’t even named a suspect yet.
On Jan. 4, a popular hair and makeup artist named Mesha Caldwell was pulled out of a car in Canton, Mississippi and shot multiple times. Caldwell, 41, was already dead when police arrived.
Two days later, neighbors of a 28-year-old transgender woman from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, told police they smelled an odor coming from her apartment. When the cops showed up, they found Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow dead; they’re now saying it was probably a homicide.
A local LGBT advocacy organization that Jamie Lee worked with said they believed she was the first transgender person ever killed in South Dakota.
The list goes on. A trans woman was shot to death in a car on the south side of Chicago just a few months after a similar incident occurred not far away. Three trans women of color were murdered in just one week in Louisiana in late February. A 23-year-old trans woman, JoJo Striker, was found dead in an empty garage in northern Ohio. She’d been shot in the torso; police appear to have no suspect or motive for her murder.
Transphobic hate crimes overwhelmingly target trans women of color because those women exist in a kind of Venn diagram of transphobia, racism and sexism.
Most of the recent murders have happened in low-income neighborhoods or rural areas where resources for transgender people are scarce or non-existent.
Trump recently revoking federal guidelines that had allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice may also have increased hostility towards transgender Americans.
Y'all worried about *possibility* of a man in women's room while we're already ahead of last year's historic number of trans WOC murders. https://t.co/lyMCFaJV6p
It’s obvious that most Americans still don’t understand what being transgender is. Local news outlets trying to cover the recent murders have misidentified the victims’ genders, then been forced to issue corrections. Comments on transgender-related content Dose has posted have been troubling, to put it mildly, as have comments on news reports about the recent murders across the country.
“From the description of these [recent] killings it sounds like these trannies were prostitutes who deceived straight male clients in to [sic] thinking they were women and were killed when their secret was unveiled,” wrote some commenter from Brooklyn on an article about the recent killings on New Now Next, a culture news site.
“I’m not condoning the killings but they were certainly playing with fire and risking their well being to be engaging in such dangerous deception,” he said.
Obviously these murders are crimes—many of them likely hate crimes. On top of that, they’re threatening the democratic foundations on which the US was built. And the longer America continues to misunderstand transgenderism, and to react with doubt and suspicion to crimes against transgender people, the longer we’re enabling this to happen.