2020 Deadliest Year on Record for Trans Community

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday October 19, 2020

2020 is the deadliest year on record for the transgender community, 11Alive reports.

At the moment, there are at least 33 known deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people who were either fatally shot or violently killed by other means — most of whom were Black and Latinx transgender women. As HRC states, they began tracking such this in 2013 and "advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year."

As HRC reports, victims are often killed by acquaintances, partners, or strangers. Some of the perpetrators have been arrested and charged, but many victims' killers have remained unidentified.

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for transgender justice initiative at HRC, said "it's totally unacceptable, it's scary and unfortunately I think it is just a sign of the times."

Among those who lost their lives in 2020 are Nina Pop, a Black transgender woman killed in Sikeston, Missouri in May; Tony McDade, a Black transgender man killed in Tallahassee, Florida; and Lexi, a transwoman killed in Harlem on March 28, stabbed to death in Harlem River Park. Lexi's friend Lavonia Brooks said "I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect. Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted."

The CDC estimates approximately one million transgender people in the US, and yet there is concern over a lack of visibility. While calling for the authorities to take greater responsibility in protecting trans lives, Cooper suggests the problem is on a much larger level: "Don't just talk about trans people after we've been killed because folks who are not very familiar with trans community that's all they know about us. We have to give colorful, full pictures of who trans people are and how we live our lives."

The transgender and gender non-conforming victims who have lost their lives this year are memorialized at HRC.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.