crop unrecognizable black man wearing lgbt ribbon on arm
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When Jasmine “Starr” Parker, a 36-year-old transgender woman, was killed in Ivy City earlier this month, the tragedy marked this year’s first violent death of a trans person in the U.S. As her family, friends and community here in D.C. mourned her passage, the national LGBTQ community mourned, too. And they watched with dismay as a familiar story began in the new year. 

In 2022, at least 36 transgender people — people whose gender is different from the sex they were assigned at birth — died in incidents of violence in the U.S. That included a trans man and a trans woman killed during a mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado the night before Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Americans face violence at more than twice the rate of cisgender Americans (those whose gender matches the sex assigned to them at birth). Black trans women like Jasmine face particularly high risks. And trans people, particularly Black trans people, face well-documented discrimination in employment, health care, and education

Meanwhile, state lawmakers across the nation have made it a priority to make trans people’s lives harder. Legislators introduced more than 300 anti-trans bills, most of which centered on trans youth, in 2021 and 2022. Trans youth — who, by the way, make up less than 2% of all kids aged 13-17 — have had their rights hotly debated on statehouse floors and TV shows. These laws attack basic needs, like the right to go to the bathroom. To play sports. To receive proper, medically-advised health care. In essence, their right to exist. 

Black Americans know what it means to have their basic rights debated, as if shared humanity was some kind of political question. And Black history in this country makes it impossible to ignore how those rhetoric-filled arguments, where powerful people try and fail to hide hatred between the lines, fan the flames of very real harm. In 2023, it’s time to recognize that we can’t tolerate that for trans youth and adults in our country. And it’s time to protect Black trans women like Jasmine in our city. 

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