In 48 hours, two transgender women have been killed in the United States. It’s time to address transphobia and the violence surrounding it in this country and all over the world.
On Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 11:50 pm, Philadelphia police officers had confirmed that Mya Young, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman was found dead. She was reportedly stabbed to death in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia near the 4800 block of Penn Street. Police rushed her to Aria Health hospital where she was pronounced dead at 12:21am Sunday morning.
The day before that Veronica Banks Cano, another Black transgender woman was founded dead at 9:00am, fully clothed, in a bathtub at the El Mio Motel on the 3500 block of Roosevelt Avenue on the south side of San Antonio, Texas. Even though no further information has been released, police say they questioned individuals who were in the room.
These two deaths raise the United States’ transgender death rate to four this year, as another Texas trans woman of color, Monica Loera, was shot on her doorstep on January 22. Austin Police Department arrested Jon Casey Rowell for that murder. The Arizona police killed Kayden Clarke, a 24-year-old white transgender man with autism, in his home in Mesa, Arizona on February 4. Clarke’s death created conversation about to how to make sense of the murder of trans men.
These four deaths have happened in the same year when transgender people are under political attack more than ever before. These are just the deaths that have reached a national spotlight. There are likely others that have been ignored by local officials.
According to a report by the Human Rights Campaign, more than 36 proposed anti-trans laws have shown up in 16 states.
Advocates are saying that transphobic violence may be rising among people of color and low-income trans people of all ethnicities because of their increased visibility in the media and entertainment. The rising hostilities against trans Americans reveals that glamorizing and highlighting the life of white, wealthy, Republican transgender reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner is not representative of the average transgender American.
Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty and face disproportionate criminalization when they encounter law enforcement and the criminal justice system. This is both a socio-political issue and a human rights dilemma. While many activist organizations are seeking to address the violence against trans people in this country, far too many more people are doing nothing about it.
The Philadelphia Police Department is offering a $20,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest or conviction of the murderer of Young. Individuals may call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or 911.
A friend of Cano named Beth Balderas has set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations for a proper burial for Cano and to assist her family in the wake of her passing.
(Photo Credit: Advocate.com/Screenshot)