Today, we are mourning again for the lives of two young transgender people of color.
On Thursday, Equality Michigan shared the news that Ashton O’Hara, a 25-year-old Michigan native, was found brutally murdered in the same Detroit park where Amber Monroe, a transgender woman of color, was murdered just last weekend.
His mother, Rebecca, says that Ashton, who used male pronouns, loved to dance and perform, and cared deeply about his friends and family.
Ashton’s death adds his name to the list of transgender people murdered in the United States just this year. There has been a significant increase in anti-transgender violence, at a moment when transgender visibility is on the rise. As HRC’s own Laya Monarez wrote, “Even as we are seeing an increase in transgender visibility through a range of inspiring national media stories, including Caitlyn Jenner’s, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women and transgender women of color – constitute a national crisis.” Just today, the body of Elisha Walker, a 20-year-old transgender woman of color, was found in North Carolina. She had been missing since November of 2014.
The vast majority of the victims of anti-transgender violence have been young transgender women of color, who are faced with the intersecting challenges of racism, sexism and transphobia, which too often translate into extreme poverty, and barriers to housing, employment, healthcare and support services like shelters and rape crisis centers.
According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Black transgender people, for example, are more than eight times as likely than the general U.S. population, and more than four times as likely than the general Black U.S. population to live in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year.