2021 Becomes Deadliest Year on Record for Transgender and Non-Binary People

by Laurel Powell

We are at a tragic and deeply upsetting moment: With the death of Marquiisha Lawrence, 2021 has become the deadliest year ever for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Each of these 45 names represents a whole person and a rich life torn from us by senseless violence, driven by bigotry and transphobia and stoked by people who hate and fear transgender people and the richness of their experience.

Dehumanizing rhetoric has real-life consequences for the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color but especially Black transgender women. As we have seen an unprecedented number of bills introduced in state legislatures attacking transgender youth and trans adults, the moment we are in is clear. They have attacked transgender people’s right to health care, right to exist in public, and right to live openly, with the ultimate goal of dehumanizing and erasing their lives and experiences.

Every life has value. Marquiisha’s life had value. At this moment, HRC vows to double down on our efforts to dismantle this culture of hate and stigma, and to honor these lives with action.”

Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign

This year, the transgender community has faced the dual threats of an unprecedented number of anti-transgender bills in state legislatures—ten states so far have passed anti-transgender legislation—as well as a resurgence of stigmatizing and demeaning rhetoric from cultural, social and political figures domestically and internationally. Recent data shows that public opinion and attitudes about transgender and gender non-conforming people have direct impacts on rates of violence against these communities. It is not enough to grieve the loss of victims of anti-transgender violence— we must honor their memories with action.

In order to work towards this goal and combat stigma against transgender and non-binary people, HRC has collaborated with WarnerMedia on a PSA campaign to lift up trans voices and stories. Learn more and watch the PSAs here. HRC has also launched the “Count Me In” campaign to encourage everyone, LGBTQ+ people and allies, to show support and spread awareness on behalf of transgender and non-binary people. The more people who are invested, including allies and transgender and non-binary people who speak up for the most marginalized in our community, the more hearts and minds we will change. Learn more and take action at hrc.org/CountMeIn.

In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.

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