Black and Latinx transgender women are being targeted in attacks across the country, leading to a number of injuries and even death, TSR Investigates’ Justin Carter reports.
In 2021 alone, a record 57 transgender people were killed, The Shade Room reported at the time. Another 38 were murdered last year, and the numbers for 2023 are increasing rapidly — especially for trans women of color.
Among those killed was Rasheeda “Koko” Williams, who was shot to death in April outside a shopping plaza in Atlanta. The city has seen three cases of Black trans women being murdered this year alone.
Koko was amongst several transgender women featured in the Sundance Film Festival documentary “Kokomo City.”
The film studies four Black transgender sex workers who tell their life stories as they confront the duality between the Black community and themselves, per IMDb.
Koko’s sister, Akeyia Williams, described her sister as a rising star who regularly faced negativity due to her status as a trans, Black woman, Williams said in a recent interview with The Shade Room.
“People who didn’t know her used to judge her, harass her, threaten her,” Williams said.
About a week after Koko’s death, Atlanta police say 17-year-old Jemarcus Jernigen turned himself in after authorities issued warrants for his arrest.
Meanwhile, another Black trans woman, 37-year-old hairstylist Ashley Burton, was similarly shot and killed outside an Atlanta apartment complex. This occurred just a week before Koko’s death.
On Tuesday (June 6), Fox 5 Atlanta reported that Darius Mills, a convicted felon, was charged in Burton’s death.
And earlier this year, officers were called to the 400 block of Highland Avenue in Atlanta, according to the outlet.
There, they discovered a Black trans woman with a gunshot wound. The woman was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition, where she later died, the outlet reports.
Police say an argument between the victim and a male suspect reportedly occurred before the shooting. No arrests have been made in that case.
Atlanta PD says that such violent crimes remain “our top priority.”
“We want you to know that violent crimes are our top priority, and our investigators are working hard on each case… We are committed to identifying everyone involved in these incidents and bringing those responsible to justice,” Atlanta Police Department wrote in a statement provided to TSR Investigates’ Justin Carter.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is similarly seeing a disturbing increase in attacks and murders of trans women of color, per USA Today. Three Black trans women were shot and killed there this year. A total of six were shot citywide.
Additional victims featured in the documentary include Tasiyah Woodland of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Zachee Imanitwitaho of Louisville, Kentucky, and Maria Rivera of Houston, Texas.
Anti-LGBTQ laws are also on the rise, according to activist Toni Michelle-Williams.
“There are attacks on a policy level, and then there are these brutal murders and attacks on trans bodies,” Michelle-Williams said. “I think there is a lack of empathy (amongst elected officials).”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that there have been a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills proposed throughout the United States this year.
Most of the proposed bills target trans or gender non-conforming people, per TSRI’s Justin Carter.
Among those bills targeting the trans community are the following: the ability to change one’s gender information on government-issued IDs, blocking access to medical care, and loosening up anti-discrimination laws.
Meanwhile, one in four Black transgender youth attempted suicide in 2022. That statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Human Rights Campaign.
The reasons they provided included a lack of acceptance within their families, unequal treatment within the justice system, and a lack of access to education, employment, healthcare, and housing, Justin Carter reports.