According to the Human Rights Campaign, 22 transgender people have been murdered this year, at least 15 of whom were Black.
The commission posted their names on its website and noted eight made to age 35 and older.
“It’s a blessing that trans women can live beyond 35. It’s just a quarter of your life,” said health care advocacy coordinator Nala Simone Toussaint, 28, of New Jersey, a member of the the National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) Black Trans Advisory Board and an activist who identifies herself as “a woman of trans experience.”
There’s currently legislation on Capitol Hill to combat racial and sexual discrimination in the LGBTQ community. The Equality Act, or HR2282, in the House would also revise “public school desegregation standards to provide for the assignment of students without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“This is a call to stop epidemic violence,” said Londyn De Richelieu of Baltimore City, an advisory board member who identifies as a Black transgender woman. “We have an obligation to protect Black transgender people, women and girls and non-binary people. This is an attack on all Black people.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the “Transgender Day of Remembrance” paid homage to those killed by violence. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said the annual commemoration began in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in 1998.
Last week supporters recognized Transgender Awareness Week as a demand to end violence against transgenders, who identity themselves based on personal gender and not by their sex at birth. The term “non-binary” signifies someone who doesn’t consider their gender identity as strictly male or female.
Public school systems have incorporated policies in regards to gender identity among students. In May, the Fairfax County School Board approved a measure to expand discrimination protection for transgender students and staff.
In D.C., the 730DC blog and newsletter noted last week that D.C. Public Schools’ student enrollment forms for next year will have a “non-binary” option for gender. DCPS spokesman Shayne Wells said in an email Friday, Nov. 16 that parents can enroll children using the updated form starting April 1.
Last month, the Trump administration offered a proposal to change the legal definition of sexual orientation to simply male and female, several news outlets reported. If approved, it would eliminate Obama-era policies that protect LGBTQ students, specifically one allowing transgender students to use public school restrooms based on their gender identity.
“Already this year, 22 beautiful people have been taken from us because of who they were,” Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) said in a statement Friday. “It’s time to pass the Equality Act and prevent that list from growing any longer.”
The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization that seeks to empower those in the LGBTQ community, also wants to push awareness of the legislation through these means:
• Recognize anti-transgender and gender-based violence.
• Support justice for crimes committed against Black transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
• Help stop the epidemic of gender-based violence against Black transgender women and gender non-binary Black people.
Although Democrats have regained control of the House and could boost more support of the legislation, it would also need approval from a Senate still under Republican leadership.
“A fight worth fighting is a fight worth engaging in,” said David Johns, executive director of NBJC. “We are only as strong as we can be when we stand together. Anyone who calls themselves a leader, or race warrior … [and] do not care … to support Black LGBTQ people … then everything that your purporting to care about is a lie.”