The U.S. is facing not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also an epidemic of violence against transgender people–particularly against trans women of color. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 33 trans or gender-noncomforming people have been killed this year. Most of them were Black or Latina. The following is a list of their names. More can be read about their lives here.
Dustin Parker. Neulisa Luciano Ruiz. Yampi Méndez Arocho. Monika Diamond. Lexi. Johanna Metzger. Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos. Layla Pelaez Sánchez. Penélope Díaz Ramírez. Nina Pop. Helle Jae O’Regan. Tony McDade. Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells. Riah Milton. Jayne Thompson. Selena Reyes-Hernandez. Brian “Egypt” Powers. Brayla Stone. Merci Mack. Shaki Peters. Bree Black. Summer Taylor. Marilyn Cazares. Dior H Ova/Tiffany Harris. Queasha D Hardy. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears. Kee Sam. Aerrion Burnett. Mia Green. Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas. Felycya Harris. Brooklyn Deshuna. and Sara Blackwood.
Trans people often face discrimination in every aspect of their lives, from work to access to healthcare and housing. Violence against trans people is intricately connected to poverty and housing circumstances, because like all social issues, the housing crisis is an intersectional problem. Discrimination and anti-trans stigma lead to higher rates of poverty and homelessness in the trans community, which leaves trans individuals vulnerable to even more violence, abuse, and victimization.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which surveyed over 27,000 trans people:
- ⅓ of trans people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
- Nearly 25% reported housing discrimination, like being evicted due to their gender, in the past year.
- 12% of respondents reported experiencing homelessness in the year because they were transgender.
- Nearly ⅓ of respondents lived in poverty, compared to 14% of the overall population.
- 30% of respondents reported being mistreated or denied promotions at work due to their gender.
- ⅙ who’d ever been employed reported being fired because of their gender.
- 46% of respondents had been verbally harassed in the past year, and 9% had been physically assaulted.
- 33% of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, like being refused treatment or verbally, physically, or sexually harassed.
- 65% of those who had experienced homelessness had been sexually assaulted, compared to 47% for those who had not experienced homelessness.
- Trans people who had experienced homelessness were more likely to have attempted suicide (59%) than those who hadn’t (40%) and the general population (4%).
These trends are only heightened for trans women of color, undocumented individuals, and people with disabilities.
Many organizations are taking action to end this humanitarian crisis. Late last year, Casa de Zulma opened its doors as the first publicly funded bridge housing project for trans women in LA County. It offers therapy, substance abuse support, services in securing permanent housing, and other types of trauma-informed care.
Hopefully we’ll see more of these specialized resources in LA’s future. Because the housing crisis disproportionately impacts the trans community, it’s imperative that we treat housing as an intersectional issue and implement that knowledge into our work.