Preventing Violence Against Trans Women

Scared Woman

Sometimes I hate the news. It can be depressing. I love men and have such positive dating and friendship experiences that it’s hard to fathom the violence, but I know it’s out there.

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Last year, a beautiful young woman named Dee Whigham was murdered in a hotel room in Mississippi. She was a 25-year-old nurse at the Hattiesburg Mississippi Hospital who was viciously stabbed over 100 times.

This week her killer, Dwanya Hickerson, was brought to justice and sentenced to forty years without parole.

The number of recent murders of transgender women like Dee Whigham is disturbing. Recently in Brazil, 42-year-old Dandara dos Santos was beaten to death by a gang of men with shoes and a wooden plank. Last month Kendra Adams, 28, was found at a construction site in New York State. Ebony Morgan, 28, from Virginia, was shot multiple times and died in hospital.

No one likes to dwell on the negative, but it’s very important for us to talk about these devastating cases with our loved ones. There are different issues like transphobia, violence against women and sex workers, drug violence, and more. Some issues overlap—drug addiction, for example, makes people in an already vulnerable population even more at risk.

While transphobia is very common among these murders, just like for any other people, there are diverse motives contributing to the violence. Ava Le’Ray Barrin of Georgia, for example, was killed by another trans woman during a dispute. Gang violence is another very common factor.

Something else we seldom discuss because it is so controversial is full disclosure. In this recent tragedy, the terrible killing of Dee Whigham, the murder occurred at the hotel when after sex, Whigham revealed that she was born male. Her sex partner was not able to deal with the information and killed her.

This is depressingly common. When people feel duped for any reason, they can be irrational and dangerous. Men who are already volatile or have a fragile masculinity may feel threatened and fly into a rage. Hickerson says he hardly remembers what happened afterwards. Dee confessed her secret, and then, he says, “I lost it, I lost it.”

It  is really important to me that my trans girlfriends date men who understand trans people and issues and who are open minded and accepting of their own desires toward them. There is no excuse or justification for the morally heinous act of murder, ever. My interest is in preventing murder, not just condemning it after I lose my friends and lovers, so I encourage all women, cis and trans, to stay away from dangerous men. Be open and honest in advance about what we’re looking for when we are dating or hooking up.

Hard to see any good news in this grim series of killings, and there isn’t. But a 40-year sentence instead of getting away with it is a huge step in the right direction. Trans rights are being taken seriously, and more people are getting educated and fighting for equality. Men like you are providing t-girls with the safe love and companionship they deserve. That’s something. We need to look after each other.

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