New Congressional Resolution Calls for Better Policies To Protect Trans Women of Color

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September 28, 2017

Representative Keith Ellison (D-M.N.) has introduced a Resolution in the House of Representatives recognizing the violence and other challenges faced by transgender women of color in the United States. 

The Resolution officially recognizes what we know too well: that transgender women of color experience more employment discrimination, more barriers to education, more police harassment and higher rates of homelessness.

The Resolution also recognizes that these disparities often lead to school expulsion and chronic poverty and/or homelessness. It further acknowledges that this discrimination often places transgender women of color into unregulated economies that force them into vulnerable situations where they often experience violence (including murder) and greater risk of incarceration. And it’s also no secret that incarcerated trans women (again, particularly trans women of color) also experience heightened harassment and violence.

2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the U.S., with the known murders of 21 transgender people on record, almost all of whom were transgender women of color. And this number is actually likely much higher, because media often fails to recognize transgender people as who they truly are, frequently misgendering or misnaming victims.

Tragically, 2017 is shaping up to be an even deadlier year. We have already lost 21 transgender people to murder, again, almost all of whom are transgender women of color. 

The Resolution introduced today focuses on long-term policy changes, rather than on further criminalization of communities of color, and helpfully articulates solutions to this systemic violence that focus on supporting transgender women of color.

Solutions include:

  • ending the school-to-prison pipeline;
  • developing anti-discriminatory employment practices;
  • ending aggressive police tactics;
  • ensuring access to affordable education and housing;
  • ensuring access to inclusive, comprehensive health care;
  • developing affirming policies and procedures to safeguard incarcerated transgender people;
  • ending the practice of placing transgender people in solitary confinement simply because they are transgender;
  • ending the practice of immigration detention for vulnerable populations, including transgender people;
  • developing policies and procedures to swiftly accept transgender people seeking asylum in the United States; and
  • ending the law enforcement practice of racial profiling.

Lambda Legal thanks Rep. Ellison for raising the visibility of the issue and for emphasizing that most of the violence targeting the transgender community is experienced by transgender women of color, who live on the intersections of racism, transphobia and sexism.

There is obviously much work to be done to actually implement these solutions, and we should all make it our priority to listen to trans women of color as we address their needs.