by Sabine Hannakampf
A wave of protest is forming in the USA for an end to (police) violence against Trans*-People of Color (PoC). The trigger was the murder of Tony McDade by police officers just two days after the murder of George Ffloyd and its media disregard. A search for evidence.
It seems that the marginalisation of transsexual and transgender PoC is moving more into focus. Since last week, more and more people are taking to the streets and demanding an end to the (police) violence against Trans*-People of Color. On Sunday thousands of people gathered in New York alone under the motto “An Action for Black Trans Lives”.
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz
Yampi Méndez Arocho
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos
Layla Pelaez Sánchez
Penélope Díaz Ramírez
Bright Jae O’Regan
Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and
were already murdered in 2020. As people with trans identities, they fell victim to the systemic racism in the USA, which is hostile to women and trans identities.
The last two names on the list, Dominique Fells of Philadelphia and Riah Milton of Cincinnati, lost their lives on June 9, at a time when people were taking to the streets in all 50 states to protest the murder of George Ffloyd and injustice to blacks.
Two days after the assassination of George Ffloyd, on May 27, 38-year-old Trans* man Tony McDade was shot dead in Florida by officials of the Tallahassee Police Department. The shooting of McDade is the third in just two months in which this police department has been involved.
Trans*-People of Color are marginalised
“We have two different worlds,” explains 26-year-old black trans* woman TS Candii when she talks about the different life realities of black people. The organiser of the protest against the murder of Tony McDade believes that “Cisgender people always take to the streets with all their deaths, their murders,” but that no one is interested in all the dead Trans* People of Color.
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Posted @withregram • @colorofchange #JusticeforTony: #TonyMcDade, a Black trans man, was killed by police in Tallahassee last week. His murder, another part of the tragic history of violence against Black transgender people in the US. His killing was the 12th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming individual this year so far. Black LGBTQ people, in particular, Black transgender people, are at a greater risk of violence everyday in this country, but also heightened police violence, and have very few protections and resources. As we start Pride Month and continue fighting to end the systemic violence Black folkx face at the hands of the police, we must uplift and ensure the names of Black trans people who are being systematically killed. When we fight for Black lives we're fighting for all Black lives. #TonyMcDade #justicefortonymcdade #blacktranslivesmatter
Even if the majority of murders of trans* persons are not committed by the police, transsexual people are exposed to structural police violence based on racism, misogyny and transphobia. And: The registration of violent crimes against transsexual people is very often incomplete and seems strangely indecisive. Black transsexual women are disproportionately often violently killed, but the arrest rates for their murders are significantly lower than for other goups within the population. This is documented in the brochure A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in the United States in 2019, published by the Human Rights Campaign in November 2019.
Although there has been much talk about this epidemic of violence against transsexual and non-binary people in recent years, what the civil rights activist and founder of the “Say Her Name” campaign Kimberlé Crenshaw said about violence against black women seems to apply to them in two ways:
“We do not lack stories of black women killed by the police. In fact, we don’t seem to know what to do with them.”
Actor Justice Smith: Coming out in protest
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"Jurassic World" star Justice Smith took to Instagram Saturday and shared a moving post about the Black Lives Matter movement while coming out as queer. 🏳️🌈 Tap link in bio to read more on @EDGEmedianetwork 📸: Actor Justice Smith, left, and actor Nicholas Ashe, right / Instagram / @standup4justice
The debate about homo- and transphobia within the Black Lives Matter movement is important. The American actor Justice Smith – known from films such as “Detective Pikachu” and “Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom” – came out as a queer during a protest against racism and police violence in New Orleans on 5 June. He explained how it came about with the following words:
“We have called Black Lives Matter, Black Queer Lives Matter and All Black Lives Matter. As a queer black man, I was disappointed that certain people were eager to shout ‘Black Lives Matter’, but did not open their mouths when ‘trans’ or ‘queer’ was added.
With his coming-out, the 24-year-old wants to contribute to making “black trans* and queer life” more visible, because
“if transmen like Tony McDade fall through the cracks and only black cis and heterosexual men are to be liberated, that is anti-black”.
Exclusion and discrimination within the community
Riah Milton & Dominique Fells were black. Dismantle the shit in your head that allows you to overlook black trans women. We are your sisters, too. Say their names. Protect & support us. We still here. #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter #SayHerName pic.twitter.com/nlfdwbzDAe
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) June 12, 2020
“If we really want change, then we must start with change in our own community. If we want black lives to count, then all black lives must count, including black transsexual lives.”
On a video, which we deliberately do not show, you can see how Iyanna Dior, a 21-year-old Trans* woman is attacked, beaten and transphobically insulted by a group of 20 to 30 people. Dior is black, as are her attackers.
The organisation Abounding Prosperity Inc. critically noted in this context that the black trans* community in the USA is treated by its own black community in the same way as black men are treated by law enforcement agencies.
More solidarity and support!
It’s absurd. Black men who take to the streets for the Black Lives Matter movement, but then attack black trans* women, undermine the very ideals they fight for. Or as Imara Jones writes in The Grio:
“As long as we don’t stop putting the pain of black men above everyone else’s and sublimating the pain of black transwomen – often caused by black men – there is no way for us all to be free.”
So it’s all just a problem under PoC?
Maybe that’s what Donald Trump and white society would like. As described above, however, the minority stress exerted on all PoCs by the white superiority leads, among other things, to the named reactions within the PoC communities. In addition, white racists do not make any difference in the gender, age, or sexual orientation of their victims. They select strictly by skin colour. If they are also anti-feminist and homophobic, these characteristics are “only” another criterion for dehumanising certain people and thus exposing them to hatred.
And so the pictures from New York and other cities in the US give rise to hope, because all in all a movement seems to be growing here which – aware of its own problems – stands together with numerous white supporters against the real evil: structural racism.
- Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-15 um 13.10.47: By: instagram.com/standup4justice
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