black trans lives matter murders deaths
International, News

Trans people among murders, suspicious deaths of Black Americans

Note: This story contains discussion of murder and suicide.

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum following the police murder of George Floyd on 25 May, more murders and suspicious deaths of Black Americans have come to light.

At least 17 trans people have been murdered in the US this year, primarily trans women of colour, the Human Rights Campaign has reported.

Black trans man Tony McDade was killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida, on 27 May.

An investigation has been launched, and the officer who shot McDade placed on administrative leave.

McDade was misgendered after his death, with the police department calling him a woman and the media referring to him as a woman who “identified as a man”.

Such misreporting of gender means that the true number of trans people murdered each year is likely substantially underreported.

Trans women of colour killed

The most recent known trans murder victim in the US is Brayla Stone, a 17-year-old Black girl who was killed in Arkansas last Thursday 25 June.

“Brayla Stone was a child,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

“A child, just beginning to live her life.

“A child of trans experience.

“A young Black girl who had hopes and dreams, plans, and community.

“As a nation, we failed Brayla – as we have failed every transgender or gender non-conforming person killed in a country that embraces violence and upholds transphobia, racism, homophobia.

“Guns are not as important as people.”

Stone was one of three Black trans girls and women murdered in just a month in the US.

Possible lynchings across the US

Several hangings of Black men in recent weeks have been treated by police as suicides, but authorities have been called on to investigate them as possible lynchings.

At least five men of colour have been found hanging in public places across the US, The New York Times has reported.

While the family of one man has stated his death was a suicide, other families and activists fear that the suspicious deaths may represent racist backlash against Black Lives Matter.

“Black people don’t do that. They don’t hang themselves from a tree in a public park,” said Los Angeles resident Terry Scott, regarding the death of local man Robert Fuller last month.

Fuller’s sister Diamond Alexander also denied that her brother was suicidal.

In Oakland, California, the FBI has opened a hate crime case after nooses were found hanging from trees in a park – though some people have claimed the ropes were exercise equipment.

“What a privilege for those of us that don’t feel complete fear and terror when we see a rope in a tree,” said mayor Libby Schaaf.

“That is a privilege that so many of our African-American residents do not enjoy.”

Pressure from activists continues for accountability of police who have murdered or victimised people of colour and an end to racist violence.

Leave a Reply