In response to the discovery of 26-year-old Mia Henderson's body in West Baltimore -- the sixth transgender woman of color murdered this year -- HRC has called for more concerted efforts to protect transgender women from unprecedented levels of violence and harassment.
Henderson – an African American, transgender woman – was found dead in an alley on Wednesday by local police. Ms. Henderson is the sister of LA Clippers Guard Reggie Bullock.
"Even as the transgender community experiences historic visibility in the mainstream media and increasingly inclusive protections under the law, the reality is that for far too many transgender individuals – particularly poor and working class transgender women of color – violence and brutality are facts of their every day existence," said Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
Henderson is the second transgender woman murdered in Baltimore within the last two months. The body of Kandy Hall – a 40 year-old transgender woman – was discovered on June 3. Both Henderson and Hall were murdered after Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed a historic statewide non-discrimination bill that included gender identity and expression earlier this year.
The 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on the experiences of transgender Americans found that nationally, black transgender and gender non-conforming people often live in extreme poverty, with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year, eight times the rate of the general U.S. population. Transgender women of color face disproportionate levels in violence in comparison to other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 72 percent of LGBTQ homicide victims in 2013 were transgender women and 89 percent were people of color. Discrimination in employment, healthcare, and persistent racism can reinforce one another to place transgender people of color at greater risk for poverty and violence.
"The importance of the statewide non-discrimination bill in Maryland cannot be overstated. We need to continue to move these protections at the state and federal level, but the truth is that while policy change is critical, it is insufficient in and of itself," said Jeff Krehely, HRC Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer. "We need a concerted effort to raise awareness that transgender people are an important part of the community and to address the persistent issues of violence and poverty facing so many in the transgender community.”
Krehely continued, "We call upon states and municipalities to raise the visibility of the transgender community and to help transgender workers through focused employment and other anti-poverty programs. Only then will we begin to curb this epidemic of violence facing transgender women."