Louisiana neglects violence against transgender women of color

Celebrations surrounding Mardi Gras – a holiday that emphasizes people showcasing their most honest, vibrant selves – were dampened by the homicide of Chyna Doll Dupree.

Dupree, a nationally known drag performer, was the fifth transgender homicide victim of 2017. The life of one more transgender women in the state was snatched away as Mardi Gras continued. Following the heartbreaking record 27 transgender homicides in 2016, there has been an increase in hate-based violence since the 2016 presidential election. As human beings and members of the diverse New Orleans community, this increasing rate of violence, especially against transgender women of color, should be a matter of deep concern.

Victims of transgender-focused hate violence are overwhelmingly trans women of color, who fall at the dangerous intersection of transphobia, racism, sexism and criminalization. This group experiences a common trend of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, making these individuals even easier targets of violence. Thus far, all seven transgender homicide victims of 2017 have been transgender women of color, with three of the incidents occurring in Louisiana.

Transgender people across the country have been trying to change the fate of their communities but are rarely supported. Instead, trans activist groups are sometimes opposed by members of other communities. Despite outreach programs, trans women like Ciara McElveen, who was killed in February in New Orleans, are still highly susceptible to violence.

“Trans women don’t want any special privileges. We should have the right to live our lives open and free and not be taunted and traumatized by the general public if they don’t approve,” Sylvia Sinclair, a friend of McElveen, said in an interview with Mic.

This general public, however, is also the one that votes on gun-carry laws and LGBTQ+ rights. Neither of those issues have worked out in favor of reducing violence against transgender women of color, especially in the open-carry state of Louisiana. Additionally, as a result of the recent election, these laws have the potential to become more harmful, giving the public even more potential to act out in hatred.

While individual communities are trying separately to combat racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, transgender women of color exist under the umbrella of all four and are endangered as a consequence. They will continue to be endangered until we, as a community of generally privileged human beings, help them feel some semblance of safety and support.

As Tulane students, we can start helping by attending the Undoing Racism workshops and events put on by Students Organizing Against Racism. We can also start our own initiatives to combat gun violence against trans women of color. In the spirit of Mardi Gras, the culture of New Orleans or simply out of our humanity, we must fight against hate and violence. Any form of hate crime against people who are simply trying to be themselves has to be met with a unified response if we hope to establish a society that is truly safe for everyone.

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Pratiksha is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected].

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