We Must Band Together for Black Trans Lives

Content Warning: Description of transphobic anti-Black violence

Against the backdrop of the Trump Administration’s reversal of transgender health protections under the Affordable Care Act, the COVID-19 pandemic, and nationwide resistance to police violence, the recent deaths of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton are a stark reminder that we are failing Black trans community. Dominique was a black American transgender woman who was murdered and whose body was mutilated and thrown into the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Riah Milton, another black American transgender woman, was lured to a park by three young adults in Liberty Township, Ohio, robbed, subsequently shot multiple times, and then left for dead. We say the names of these women, remember them, and once again promise to ourselves and to our TGNC friends and loved ones that we cannot allow this to continue to happen.

Despite recent gains, like the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination, Black trans women still remain one of the most impacted groups affected by unemployment, barriers to higher education, housing discrimination, with no legal recourse after experiencing viciously violent attacks. These are the issues that need to be addressed first before victories like the Supreme Court ruling can even begin to protect Black trans women.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has changed. For Black trans women and those we love, housing opportunities have become scarce and employment prospects have become virtually unseeable and unknowable. Being left to navigate a lethal pandemic, which is extremely reminiscent of previous health crises, life has become bleak for so many trans women who are seeking direct assistance, tangible resources, and organizational support. What are we doing to center the needs of Black trans women this time to make sure they are safe and well?

These reminders of the very real threats against trans women of color, are the reason why the Trans Accountability Project at Howard Brown Health exists – to ensure that trans women of color directly inform policies and programs that are meant to help.

We must stand firm, band fiercely together, and reject all of these inhumane acts of violence, structural discrimination, and murders that are happening to us and ours. Let’s not lose sight of our goals and our dreams. This is a call to action for those in positions of power and authority to reach out, give what is being asked for by the community, see what can be done for Black trans women, and commit to producing tangible results.

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