SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – Monday marked the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is held every year on Nov. 20 since 1998.
Activist and member of the trans community, Kaleef Starks, says as the visibility of trans and nonbinary people has increased, so has the levels of violence. One of the reasons she highlights for the increase in violence is the stigma around being trans.
“People are still having to undo that stigma, and it brought me to the place like, ‘Hey, you know, it’s not bad for me to be a trans person; it’s not bad for me to exist and be who I am,’” Starks explained. “Whether I’m open about it or not. This is not a bad thing; society feels this is a bad thing. Society is creating the stereotypes and difficulties that I have to unpack and deal with through this lived experience.”
According to the annual Trans Murder Monitoring Report, compiled by the organization Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide, there have been 320 trans and gender-diverse people killed between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2023. The majority of the victims were between the ages of 19 and 25, and 94% of those people were trans women.
Since the organization started tracking these homicides in 2008, there have been over 4600 deaths.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 88% of victims were people of color, with 73% dying as a result of gun violence. In 47% of the cases where a killer was identified, they were someone who knew the victim, as either a romantic/sexual partner, friend, or family member.
Following their deaths, half of these victims were either misgendered or called by their pre-transition name by authorities or the press.
Here are just a few of the trans and nonbinary people close to this area that have been lost to anti-trans hatred:
- Dominic Dupree, known as Dominic Palace, a 25-year-old gender nonconforming person and business owner from Gary, Indiana, was shot and killed last month.
- Thomas “Tom-Tom” Robertson, a 28-year-old, was shot and killed in Calumet City in August.
- Ashia Davis, a 34-year-old transgender woman from Detroit, was found shot dead in a hotel room this past June.
- Unique Banks is a 21-year-old trans woman who was killed in a mass shooting along with her mother in Chicago in January. Two other trans women were injured in that act as well.
Starks says there are many ways to show up as an ally for the trans and gender-diverse community.
“We say always educating yourself, but education is very real. Stay up to date about what’s happening in this community. Of course, be sensitive to pronouns; be respectful. If you have a trans or nonbinary person in your day-to-day life, interact with them. Make sure that you are showing up as a real ally. Let them know that you care about them, that you care about their well-being.”
In 2013, the FBI began recognizing trans and gender-diverse-motivated homicides as hate crimes.
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