protest sign
Kevin RC Wilson / Shutterstock 

Black trans lives matter, too

There have been 14 murders of transgender people in 2020.


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Ever since the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, people all over the country have been fighting for Black lives. When Black men are unjustly murdered, the Black community mobilizes themselves quickly on the streets and on social media. 

But that same energy isn’t always given for Black women, especially Black trans women. 

According to a study conducted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in the Americas, trans women of color have a life expectancy of only 30 to35 years. 

On June 8, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27 year old Black trans woman was found dead in Philadelphia, and the next day, the body of Riah Melton, a 25 year old Black trans woman was found in Liberty Township, Ohio. 

According to the Human Rights Campaign, Fells and Milton are believed to be the 13th and 14th transgender murder victims this year.

Many activists on Twitter were upset with the lack of outrage and action over the murders of Fells and Milton. 

“Y’all were LOUD last week for George Floyd but I hear almost nothing about Dominique Fells and Riah Milton, two Black trans women that were murdered this week. Your anti-racism is performative if it doesn’t include trans folks,” one commenter wrote. 

Another, in response to the Supreme Court decision regarding LGBT workers rights, said “we cannot claim an LGBTQ+ victory if we do not acknowledge that in the same week two Black trans women were murdered.” 

On Sunday June 14, the nation decided to acknowledge it with tens of thousands of people protesting. In New York City, thousands of people gathered at the Brooklyn Museum, and about 25,000 marched along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Organizers in NYC urged protesters to wear white to pay homage to an anti-racism protest in 1917, where men wore black and women and children wore white. White was also worn for symbolic reasons, as it represents a fresh start. 

“Another part of our incentive for folks to wear white was to help the public understand a new, visual way to imagine our community, the dawn of a new era that would not just include Black trans and gendernonconforming people, but put them at the front where they belong,” said Fran Tirado, one of the organizers.

Community organizer, Milan Nicole Sherry, is the founder of the hashtag #BlackTransLivesMatter. In an interview with Buzzfeed, she said she wants people to start fighting for Black trans women while they are alive. 

“When we die, everybody takes to the streets, and they rally, they protest,” she said. “But where was that same energy when that lady was alive? We could have prevented that death.”



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