The Murders Of Trans People In America Can’t Be Ignored Any Longer

by Cate Carrejo
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Kenne McFadden's murder is the latest on the long list of transgender persons killed in America, but you might not have heard about it. This epidemic of violence against members of the trans community has gone on for years, but the issue has not received nearly enough attention, in part because media coverage of transgender murders like McFadden's has been sorely lacking.

McFadden, 27, was murdered in San Antonio, Texas, the seventh trans murder in the state since 2013. The police originally misgendered her and ruled her death an accident, but McFadden was eventually identified by her proper gender and found to be not drowned accidentally. Police haven't been able to confirm whether her killing was related to her gender identity, but McFadden's death is nevertheless an attack on the trans community.

Transgender women are one of the most persecuted groups in American society. Although it's impossible to calculate a murder rate for the community since the precise number of trans individuals living in the country is uncertain, multiple studies have shown that transgender people are much more likely to experience violence than their cisgender counterparts. An estimated two dozen trans women are murdered every year, and most of them are trans women of color. This year alone, McFadden was the 11th black transgender woman murdered.

Ignorance of the violence against trans people — and specifically against trans women of color — perpetuates the racism, sexism, and cis-normativity that impact the LGBTQ+ community. The same social structures that cause disproportionate rates of violence against cis women of color also contribute to the increased danger to trans women of color. But they are rarely reported on in the context of how they impact the trans community, either through violence or through other discrimination in seeking housing, jobs, and in community engagement.

Increased media coverage can raise awareness about the terrifying rate at which trans people are murdered, and then identify and eliminate the root of this violence. That means a safer society for everyone, but most importantly for trans women of color who are the most at risk. Protecting trans women of color means enshrining their place in society and making clear to everyone that they are as valuable as any cisgender person, and news coverage is a strong medium through which to achieve that.

If anyone wants to call their feminism intersectional, they have to meaningfully address these instances of violence against trans women and what causes them. This country can no longer afford to be silent about the systemic violence against its most vulnerable citizens, especially if America wants to truly take pride in its diversity.

Trans women deserve justice, in life and in death. Rest in power, Kenne McFadden.