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Girls & Women

Protests for Racial Justice Highlight Need to Support Black Trans Women

By Oscar Lopez

MEXICO CITY, June 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The US protests over racial injustice should address the violence and discrimination faced by Black transgender women, rights groups said on Monday, with at least a dozen trans people murdered this year in the United States.

Targeted for their race and gender identity, trans Black women are overlooked and their cause should be included in the protests that have been waged since the death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, they said.

Transgender Americans suffer from higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, and discrimination than others in the LGBTQ+ community, and they face violence and racism, supporters say.

"I don't think that anybody would say that there's been enough attention focused on and around trans people and the state of violence they live in," said Tori Cooper of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a US LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

"I think it is a weakness of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement ... We only speak out when Black men are being harmed or murdered," Cooper told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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The protests were sparked by a viral video showing Floyd, 46, being restrained on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

His death has drawn renewed scrutiny to the killings of Black Americans at the hands of police, including transgender man Tony McDade, who was fatally shot in Florida last month.

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While in the Minneapolis case Floyd was unarmed, police say McDade pointed a gun at an officer, and there has been a public call for the release of police body camera footage.

Last week, Black transgender woman Iyanna Dior was beaten by a mob at a gas station in Minneapolis, and video of the attack has gone viral online with millions of viewers.

But mainstream media attention to these incidents remains limited, advocates said, overlooking the violence facing transgender people.

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According to the HRC, at least 12 trans people have been murdered this year in the United States, and 26 were killed in 2019.

"Violence does not just occur to Black men andBblack women. It occurs to all Black LGBT people," said Mariah Moore of the US rights group Transgender Law Center.

"We are the people that are not being heard in this movement."

A fifth of US trans people reported discrimination when seeking a home, and more than 1 in 10 say they have been evicted for being trans, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

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Also, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of trans people who have been diagnosed with HIV is triple the national average.

Many US organizations working on racial justice have seen a deluge of funding since the protests began, but resources for trans groups lag behind, organizers say.

Donations to an online fundraiser for homeless Black trans women in Atlanta surged to more than $1.8 million following Floyd's killing, while a Minneapolis bail fund, which collects money to post bail for people who have been detained, raised more than $20 million.

(Reporting by Oscar Lopez @oscarlopezgib; editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)