For decades, every year she’s been active in the transgender community, Isa Noyola has attended a funeral for a friend.
As deputy director at the Transgender Law Center based in Oakland, California, she has met many community members who have the same experience. “Death, profound loss, the violence that surrounds us, it’s constant. It’s a significant part of my transgender experience.”
Despite an all-time high in trans-visibility, with celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox now mainstream media stars, violence against the community is getting worse, community advocates say.
“You have this incredible pivotal moment of media visibility with pop culture, but it comes without education and deeper learning about the transgender community,” Noyola said. “Too many places remain unsafe.”
More than two dozen transgender people were killed last year, according to information gathered by CNN, the New York City Anti-Violence Project and the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group.
It’s impossible to know an exact count. Federal statistics are limited. There’s also “serious under-reporting,” according to the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank focused on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
Another issue is that police, media and even family members will often misgender the victims, describing the person using the name and gender with which they did not identify. Of the 28 victims CNN found, the majority were misgendered initially, and in some cases, police and media continue to do so.