Black Trans Lives Matter Too

A Black Lives Matter protestor shows support for trans lives at a Biscayne demonstration on Sunday, May 31. Jesse Fraga/PantherNOW

Gabriela Enamorado/Staff Writer

People around the world have been protesting the murder of George Floyd and taking part in conversations about the violence Black people face in their daily lives. 

While this is a good step towards progress, one important demographic is being left out of these talks. The violence that Black transgender people face is being ignored, and we can’t let that continue—especially during Pride Month. 

Many people have not been made aware of the murder of Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black trans man who was killed by police on May 27. He was allegedly killed because he had pointed a gun at the police, and matched the description of a man who had committed a crime earlier that day. However, a witness claimed she heard an officer call McDade a racial slur before he was gunned down. Another witness said they never heard the police try to deescalate the situation. 

This shooting wasn’t given much attention and didn’t gain traction in the mainstream media. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Black trans people face violence like hate crimes and police brutality far too often and there isn’t enough conversation about it. 

McDade isn’t the only trans person of color who has fallen victim of the police and prison system. 

L-R: Tony McDade, Iyanna Dior, Dominique Fells and Riah Milton

According to Lambda Legal, one in two Black trans people has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. Trans people of color are also six times more likely to experience police violence than someone who is cisgender and white. So when talking about police brutality against Black people, this is something that should be brought up more.

Black trans people get killed at alarming rates. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed in 2019 alone. Many of these deaths were Black trans women. Sadly, it seems to be an epidemic of violence. 

Black trans women also experience some of the worst violence and misogynoir, which is misogyny directed towards Black women specifically. 

A recent instance of is the attack on Iyanna Dior, a Black trans woman from Minnesota. Iyanna was beaten outside of a convenience store on June 4, by a group of 30 men who called her transphobic slurs. In the video, which went viral online, nobody in the crowd is seen coming to Iyanna’s aid. 

Just this week also saw the deaths of two other Black trans women in horrific murders. On June 9, Dominique Fells’ body was found dismembered in a river in Pennsylvania with trauma to the head and face. In Ohio that same day, Riah Milton was lured into a park, robbed and then shot several times. 

It is likely that both of these killings were the result of transphobia, which is no doubt rampant in our society. How many more have to die for us to come together and stop this trend of violence? 

The Black Lives Matter movement and the movement for LGBTQ+ rights are not mutually exclusive, with intersectionality being at the root of both. We can’t be for Black lives if we are ignoring the stories of violence that Black trans people face every day. We can’t pick and choose when Black lives matter. 

Speaking up and raising awareness is key here. It starts with us. Do not write trans people out of your activism. Make sure these stories do not go unheard. Let it be known that trans Black lives have always and will always matter.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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