Politics Magazine

Life In The U.S. Is Dangerous For The Trans Community

Posted on the 23 November 2021 by Jobsanger
Life In The U.S. Is Dangerous For The Trans Community
The following is part of an op-ed at MSNBC.com by Katelyn Burns (the first openly trans Capitol Hill journalist in this country's history):

To be a member of the trans community is to be intimately familiar with death. When I first came out as trans in 2016, I quickly became friends with a younger trans woman who later took her own life. The risk of death or losing a friend or loved one seems to be ever present for trans people, and this year a record 47 trans people have been lost to violence

The number of trans people murdered has grown each year over the last decade. At the same time, we’re seeing a simultaneous growing chorus of anti-trans objectors trying to poke holes in the statistics.

A common anti-trans refrain includes a makeshift calculation that takes the number of murdered trans people and divides that number by estimates of the size of the U.S. trans population to infer that statistically trans people are actually safer than the general population.

This argument falls apart when you consider that most trans victims of violence are not initially reported as trans in police reports, with many departments instead using language like “a man in women’s clothes” in news releases. This adds an extra layer of verification on the part of local news organizations when confirming the identities of trans murder victims. While improvements in this reporting have happened in recent years (and is likely the primary cause of the increase in confirmed reports of trans victims), the gutting of local news infrastructure means the full extent of anti-trans violence is likely to never be fully realized.

Another anti-trans argument points out that we can never know if a murder victim was actually killed because they were trans or for some other reason. This is true, at least in part, but misses the full picture. We know trans people are much more likely to live in poverty than the general population. Trans people are chronically unemployed or underemployed due to discrimination, and poverty is a large predictor of risk to violence.

But both of these arguments fail to capture the full scope of trans lives and our experiences with violence. . . .

Combined with an extended conservative media campaign against trans people in general, the end result is an America in which trans people not only feel unwelcome, but also unsafe.

This is, in the end, the entire point of anti-trans activism, even those doing back-of-the-envelope math to naysay trans murder statistics. None of this actually helps trans people in any way. Instead, trans people need protection, both in life and in law.

The Equality Act, which would include trans people under existing federal civil rights law, would go a long way in protecting trans lives. It’s currently dead in the Senate, as Democrats don’t have the votes to break a threatened filibuster.

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