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Chad Merritt
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2021 is the deadliest year on record for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans. As of December, The Advocate has documented that 57 members of this population have died by violence, surpassing 2020's record of 44. LGBTQ+ organizations and media have been tracking these numbers for about eight years. There may have been some increase in accurate reporting, but much deadnaming and misgendering of these individuals still takes place, meaning there are likely far many more victims.

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There is a great deal of information about some of those we've lost, very little about some others. In this gallery, The Advocate seeks to honor their memories by presenting them as the unique, complex individuals they were.

"Dominique was a mother, a sister, a leader, and a necessity to our community," Sage Dolan-Sandrino, Monica Roberts Fellow at the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a press release. "Although I never met Dominique, I am sure she was exactly who I needed when I was young and transitioning -- a light source, an example of who I could become, proof that there was a future for me. Trans women have fought for everyone throughout history, yet we are still being murdered by the same people who we liberated. We give our lives in ways no one should ever be expected to, only to be met with constant hate, discrimination, violence, and disenfranchisement. Trans women deserve better. There is a war on our lives at hand and no one is sending soldiers to our aid."

Bandz's death is an example of intimate partner violence, which trans people experience at a higher rate than cisgender people. In 2020, 70 percent of trans and gender-nonconforming people who died by violence "were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner," the Human Rights Campaign notes.

Black's body was found May 11 in the Coachella Canal near Slab City, which is an unincorporated community near Niland, in the desert close to California's border with Mexico. Workers from the Coachella Valley Water District originally thought he had drowned, but an autopsy several days later revealed stab wounds. Police are investigating his death as a homicide.

Cris Blehar, 65, was stabbed and shot to death May 19 in a residence in Flaherty, an unincorporated area of Meade County in north-central Kentucky. Police found her during a wellness check. Tyler Petty, 18, is charged with murder and will go on trial next June. Police said he may have worked for Blehar. Her obituary said she lived in Vine Grove, a nearby community.

Lewis was remembered fondly by people connected with the Cleveland center's Trans Wellness program, which operates a support group and offers referrals to resources. "I just really respected her for the fact that she walked through so much," Eliana Turan, director of development at the center, told the Flame. "And she still shined such a light. She only gave kindness."

"Transgender individuals are experiencing violence locally and around the country almost every day," Budd said in her statement. "D.C. and P.G. County are only separated by a line, and we must come together as one community to address this violence. ... There should be no rest in the LGBTQ community when something as tragic as this happens. Our prayers go out to the family of Taya." More than 200 people attended a vigil in Ashton's memory.

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign's Transgender Justice Initiative, commented both on the epidemic of violence against trans people and the many tragedies associated with guns. "Losing yet another sister in the transgender community to such violent means is disheartening, and yet infuriating," Cooper said in a press release. "The senseless violence against our community is alarming, but what is also alarming is the lack of comprehensive gun control legislation that puts all communities in immediate danger. If we are to draw attention to the frightening rate of anti-trans fatal violence, we also need to draw attention to the dire need for gun control laws in this country that will ultimately not only keep our transgender community safer, but all communities safer."

"I was really devastated when I found out, when I got the news," her friend Ashlee Banks told KTVU. Banks, who described David as a fun-loving, considerate person, said there was likely "some type of physical altercation" that led to the shooting. "To the people who harmed her, I just hope that justice is served," she added.

"Learning about Nikai David's death is disheartening and alarming," Tori Cooper, HRC's director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. "In the year that we've marked as the deadliest year on record for our community, we continue to see a frightening rate of fatal violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people. We must all continue to demand that the violence cease. David was a young person with so much life ahead of her. For her future to have been violently taken away from her serves as a reminder that we remain with so much work ahead of us to ensure a safe and loving world for all."

Jen Struck, Turietta's aunt, described her as "a character" and "just completely free spirit." Turietta had grown up in Albuquerque and had returned there a few years ago after traveling all over the U.S. and internationally. Turietta had just celebrated the holidays with her family.

Rates of clinically significant depression have escalated among trans people and, in the midst of lockdown in June 2020, 49 per cent of trans Australians reported thoughts of self-harm or suicide. This is more than three times the national rate.

More research is also needed to provide the highest level of evidence to reverse these alarming statistics, lower suicide rates, improve mental health and provide the best gender-affirming interventions enabling trans people to live a life without barriers.

In 2017, Alexis Dinno, an associate professor at Portland State University, analyzed the homicide rates of transgender people. She found that transgender women of color were more likely to be murdered than cisgender women. Data also shows that transgender women face staggering rates of employment discrimination, lack of access to health care and high rates of family rejection.

Raquel Willis doesn\u2019t remember the first time she heard the statistic, only that it struck her as terrifying and true. It went like this: The average life expectancy for a Black transgender woman was 35 years.\n\n\n\n\u201cEven 10 years ago, I had no access to understanding what a life beyond the present moment could look like for me as an openly Black trans woman,\u201d said Willis, 31, an author and activist. \u201cThis kind of American dream has never fully considered the existence of trans people, queer people and, of course, not those of us who are racialized Black.\u201d \n\n\n\nThe stat has been repeated year after year. Major media outlets report it as fact. Four years ago, another Black trans activist \u2014 Ashlee Marie Preston \u2014 launched the #ThriveOver35 social media campaign, aimed at showing examples of Black trans women living past 35 years old. \n\n\n\nThere was only one problem with the campaign: While that statistic felt true \u2014 and transgender women of color are more likely to be murdered than their cisgender female peers, experts say \u2014 it\u2019s false. \n\n\n\nExperts worry that this statistic gives trans people, especially Black trans people, an expiration date on their lives and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. \n\n\n\n\u201cWhat you are doing is creating huge levels of fear, which causes high levels of stress, which will actually cause people to die younger,\u201d said Laurel Westbrook, a professor of sociology and the author of \u201cUnlivable Lives: Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism.\u201d \n\n\n\nThere are different theories about how this statistic originated.\n\n\n\nWestbrook, who has researched the lives and deaths of transgender people, recalled that a presenter at the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference arrived at that conclusion by averaging the ages of one year\u2019s transgender homicide victims, who were naturally younger. \n\n\n\n\u201cMost homicide victims are 30 or younger,\u201d said Westbrook. \u201cThat doesn't mean that most trans people will die by the time they're 30.\u201d\n\n\n\nMost experts, however, cite another source. Avery Everhart, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, has also researched the life expectancy statistic and says it originates from a 2015 report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on violence against LGBTQ+ people in Latin America. The document anecdotally mentions that, \u201cLatin American organizations report that the life expectancy of trans women in the region is between 30 and 35 years of age.\u201d\n\n\n\nIt makes no mention of the United States, nor does it provide data, Everhart points out. \n\n\n\n\u201cSo it's not even actually a true statistic,\u201d Everhart said. \n\n\n\n\n\nBut the stat does tap into something real, experts say. \n\n\n\nTransgender advocates have recorded transgender homicides annually since 1998 when Rita Hester, a Black transgender woman, was brutally murdered in her Boston apartment two days before her 35th birthday. Hester was killed just weeks after gay White college student Matthew Shepard. Unlike Shepard\u2019s, her case got little attention, and even LGBTQ+ media misgendered her.\u00a0\n\n\n\nSince that time, LGBTQ+ rights groups have worked to track transgender deaths, often correcting police departments and media reports that misgender the victims. As a result, the number of reported transgender homicides has steadily increased as awareness has grown over the last 24 years. But advocates say the increased visibility of trans lives has been a blessing and a curse.\n\n\n\nThe past three years have seen unprecedented attacks on transgender people in state legislatures. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 13 states have signed anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law this year. 2021 saw the highest spike in anti-trans murders ever recorded at 57, a number that nearly doubled since past years. Some advocates say that those numbers are related, that as legislative attacks on trans people increase, violence against trans people also trends upward.\n\n\n\nBut Westbrook cautions that it\u2019s hard to know how anti-trans bills and anti-trans violence are related because federal and local governments have never recorded transgender homicides in a systemic way. \n\n\n\n\u201cWhite trans people, particularly White trans men, are very unlikely to be killed in the United States,\u201d said Westbrook. Trans women of color do face elevated rates of violence, Westbrook added, but those rates are not necessarily higher than cisgender Black men. \n\n\n\n\n\n\u201cAnd that is not because trans folks are protected in some way but because the homicide rates in the United States, for particularly young cis men of color, are so incredibly high,\u201d Westbrook said. \n\n\n\nIn 2017, Alexis Dinno, an associate professor at Portland State University, analyzed the homicide rates of transgender people. She found that transgender women of color were more likely to be murdered than cisgender women. Data also shows that transgender women face staggering rates of employment discrimination, lack of access to health care and high rates of family rejection. \n\n\n\nWillis says the statistic once communicated an urgency in the community. Today, she thinks trans people need more complicated stories. \n\n\n\n\u201cI think several years ago, it served a purpose to have such a focus on this pattern of violence, and we still have to continue to try and alleviate that issue,\u201d she said. \u201cBut if we are not balancing the discussion around death with the discussion of the fullness of trans people of color and our lives, then we're not giving a full story of what is possible once you are living authentically and vulnerably.\u201d \n","post_title":"For years, Black trans women have been told their life expectancy is 35 years. That\u2019s false.","post_excerpt":"","post_status":"publish","comment_status":"closed","ping_status":"closed","post_password":"","post_name":"black-trans-women-life-expectancy-false","to_ping":"","pinged":"","post_modified":"2022-08-17 16:32:33","post_modified_gmt":"2022-08-17 21:32:33","post_content_filtered":"","post_parent":0,"guid":"https:\/\/\/?p=43675","menu_order":0,"post_type":"post","post_mime_type":"","comment_count":"0","filter":"raw"},"authors":["name":"Kate Sosin","slug":"kate-sosin","taxonomy":"author","description":"Kate Sosin is our LGBTQ+ reporter, focusing on transgender rights, incarceration, politics and public policy. Kate has conducted deep-dive investigations into transgender prison abuse and homicides for NBC News. They previously worked at Logo TV, INTO and Windy City Times.","parent":0,"count":131,"filter":"raw","link":"https:\/\/\/author\/kate-sosin"]} Up Next Health 041b061a72


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