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Matthew’s Place

What Protecting the Trans Community Means Today

by Judy Bokao

The transgender community has been going through a lot this year. Dave Chapelle’s recent thoughtless, transphobic remarks are just one of the many attacks they have had to endure. According to Human Rights Campaign, which has been documenting anti-transgender violence since 2015, this year is shaping up to be one of the most violent on record. By June 2021, at least 43 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means. Sadly, most cases go unreported and the number is likely higher.

As more trans-people continue to lose their lives in painful and deeply inhumane attacks, anti-transgnder legislation is being circulated on state legislator’s desks. There seems to be a renewed legislative push to discriminate and stigmatize the trans-community by using the legal system as a weapon. These bills undermine basic human rights of the trans community by making inclusive healthcare inaccessible, interfering with the education of trans-kids, and by degrading their quality of life in other aspects.

Conservative lawmakers are sending a message that trans people are “less than.” This is adding fuel to the already deadly stigma and intensifying the day-to-day stigma the trans-community faces. The dramatic escalation of these anti-trans bills is a clear sign that the transgender community is under attack. Despite knowing how vulnerable the community is, lawmakers are putting the trans community at higher risk.

While most of these anti-trans bills have failed, 13 have been passed in the United States and at least 6 are still active. It is hard to fight a war when there is an avalanche on every front. According to transgender activists, the flurry of anti-trans bills is exhausting and reinforces the hard reality of being trans in America, with no clear end in sight.

The transgender community already have the system against them. They are disproportionately likely to be jobless, homeless, and lack access to food and health care. Just on October 17th, a body of a transgender woman, Jessi Hart was found dead after living in her car with her son. Her body was found two weeks after her murder. Hart had always been open on how she struggled to survive. Her story resonates with many LGBTQ+ people who are estranged from family upon coming out and unfortunately end up homeless due to circumstances outside of their control.

Why is the violence towards the transgender community on an alarming rise every year? This is a question even experts are having a hard time answering. There has been increased media visibility with more victims and their families able to speak on these brutal attacks. Unfortunately, it is still hard to get justice for the victims because the legal system has many loopholes that give advantage to the perpetrators. We need to put up a united front and raise awareness of these legal and physical attacks that the trans community unfairly face.

We need to understand that these transgender victims were human. They were part of a family. They had people who are still coming to terms with their shocking and unfair deaths. In the case of Jessi Hart, her son will grow up without a mother. Robbing trans people of their lives and extinguishing their light is wrong and it is devastating how we keep normalizing these deaths. My heart breaks for the deep loss their family and friends have to go through and the suffering they endure when trying to bring justice to their lost ones. These unprecedented attacks must urge us to act now to give everyone in the LGBTQ+ community the safety and security they deserve.

About the Author:

Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.

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Matthew’s Place is by and for LGBTQ+ youth and a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation l #EraseHate

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Matthew's Place

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MatthewsPlace.com is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email patrick@matthewshepard.org

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