More on Violence and Bias Against Transgender Women of Color

Research shows the murders are but the most extreme form of danger they face.

By Kai Wright Nov 20, 2010

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. As I wrote yesterday, at least 22 people were murdered in 2009 because of their sexual orientation. Four out of five of them were people of color and half were transgender women; the other half were overwhelmingly men who defied gender stereotypes, according to hate crime monitors. I argued in yesterday’s article that this violence is best understood as the most extreme example of a long list of dangers transgender women, particularly those of color, deal with everyday. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality point out a few of studies that provide more detail on that.

One study looks at trans folks’ experience trying to get health care. In a survey of 6,450 transgender people, one in five reported being refused health care outright because of their gender presentation. More than a quarter reported being harassed while seeking medical care. As a consequence, more than a quarter reported avoiding medical care when they needed it. Read the study here.

Another study, using the same survey data, looked at the job market. A whopping 97 percent reported harassment at work; more than a quarter had been fired because they were transgender. Fifteen percent lived on less than $10,000 a year in 2007, which was double the national rate of poverty at the time. Among black transgender respondents, 35 percent lived in deep poverty. That’s a remarkable number. And 28 percent of Latino respondents lived in poverty.

So the murders are grisly, but they are not isolated attacks. Our cultural fear of people who won’t follow rigid gender rules allows us to turn the other way while people are harassed, exploited and attacked routinely. Stop and think about that today, and then lets all start standing up against gender violence of all forms. And as I wrote yesterday, given the data, communities of color in particular need to come together to put this stuff to an end.