This week, the award winning web series NoMoreDownLow TV highlighted the horrifyingly high rate of violence that occurs against LGBT people of color and the large number of murders that remain unsolved. The segment featured the stories of three African American transgender women who were brutally murdered in major cities across the U.S.
Deoni Jones was 23 years old when she was fatally stabbed in the District of Columbia last year. In the video, Deoni’s parents speak out about her murder and about their efforts to seek justice for their daughter. Their persistence helped bring about the Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013, which allows the District of Columbia to issue a new birth certificate designating a new gender, allows the original certificate to be sealed when a new certificate is issued, and eliminates the requirement that name changes be published in a newspaper.
In August of this year, 21 year-old Islan Nettles was brutally assaulted while walking with friends in Harlem, NY and later died of her injuries. That same month, 32 year-old Dominique Newburn was beaten to death in her own home in San Bernadino, California. In all three of these cases, none of the perpetrators have yet been convicted of any crime.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that the combination of anti-transgender bias and persistent, structural, and individual racism is especially devastating for transgender people of color. However, statistics reveal the true magnitude of the problem and reveal how often violent crimes are committed against transgender people of color. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the 4th highest yearly murder rate of LGBTQ people in history occurred in 2012; just last year. Of these victims, 73% were LGBTQ people of color and 53% were transgender women.
State and federal laws exist to protect all people from hate crimes and crimes of violence. However, these laws are not preventing the crimes themselves and are not being fairly enforced to provide justice to transgender victims. NCTE will continue to advocate for the enforcement of laws that address violence against transgender people, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act, which was reauthorized to include LGBT people this year. We are also working with federal agencies on many other steps that would help prevent and address crimes against LGBT people, such as training law enforcement officials and victim service providers on working with transgender people, and gathering demographic data that includes gender identity and sexual orientation in programs serving crime victims. NCTE will work tirelessly to make sure that our government and communities do not forget that violence against trans people is an ongoing problem happening at alarming rates, which we must eradicate once and for all.
In your community, you can call out these acts of violence and demand justice for all LGBTQ people by reporting hate crimes to local and federal police. Also reach out to the Anti-Violence Project in your state by visiting: www.ncavp.org.
For more information, refer to our resource on Responding to Hate Crimes here.