HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dana Martin, a Black transgender woman killed in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6.
Local reports stated that Martin, 31, was found in a roadside ditch in her vehicle with a fatal gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests have been made, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, and the investigation is ongoing.
As is too often the case in the reporting of anti-transgender violence, Martin was initially misgendered by law enforcement and subsequent media reports, which delayed our awareness of this deadly incident.
“That’s a sister, even though she’s not here to defend herself,” Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, founder of Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering, said in an interview with INTO. Duncan-Boyd described how Martin was loved by many.
“We still have a community in loss that is willing to defend her,” Duncan-Boyd said. “The justice system doesn’t know how to handle situations where trans folks are murdered. They always misgender, and when they misgender, it knocks the data off.”
The misgendering of transgender individuals is indicative of anti-transgender bias and discrimination too often seen from law enforcement, the media and our highest elected officials. Accurate reporting is imperative to gauge the full scope of bias-motivated crimes and effectively address the epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets trans women of color, but too often these crimes go uninvestigated, unreported or misreported -- and thereby unaddressed. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.
Martin’s death is the first known case of deadly violence against the transgender community in 2019. Last year, advocates tracked the deaths of at least 26 transgender people, the majority of whom were Black transgender women.
In November, HRC Foundation released "A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018," a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- must cease.
To learn more about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.