Violence Against Trans Women and How to Protect Them

Scared Woman

I like to share uplifting and positive news about transgender issues whenever I can, and there is lots of it, all around the world—an amazing thing to celebrate—but the trans women you love are still in perpetual danger, uniquely vulnerable to violent assaults, attacks, rape, and murder. We need to face those facts and see what more we can do to keep our communities safe.

Recently in Philadelphia, an explosive was tossed at a house known to be a safe house for transgender people. So much for “safe” house.

Philly authorities are investigating the incident as a probable hate crime, and though they have security footage of two men walking past and tossing the bomb at the house, at the time of this writing those suspects have not been apprehended.

In Florida, several transgender women have been shot recently, including one survivor. Investigators have rejected the possibility that the shootings are connected as unlikely, but activists fear a serial killer. While some unsolved trans murders in Florida have commonalities, such as taking place in a motel, and the victim being a woman of color, many have been solved and involve different perpetrators. Whether it’s one serial attacker or many isn’t much consolation to me—I want transgender women like Antasha English and Celine Walker to be safe, sound, and surrounded by friends, not enemies.

Unfortunately, transgender women are often at risk from intimate partners who cannot handle their own attractions, or men who are jealous or controlling or refuse to accept sexual rejection, just as many cis women face these same threats from their dates or spouses. That means it’s a good idea once in awhile to check in on your T-girl friends and lovers and make sure they’re safe.

How? Ask them. No one wants to live paranoid or suspect everyone of malicious intent, but it’s a good idea to be realistic and assess threats. Consider dates, sex partners, sex clients, and family members for unusually controlling or hostile behavior.

If you’re chatting online or with other trans admirers, keep alert for red flags among the men you meet. Do they seem hostile about their attractions or talk frequently in derogatory terms about trans women? If so, become attuned to potential risks and warn women of bad apples.

This doesn’t mean witchhunting every man who uses the word “bitch” or gets upset on occasion, but when there’s a darker hostility and a sense of entitlement, be alert and cautious.

It goes without saying, perhaps, but make sure your date enters her home safely and locks the door after you drop her off.

Advocate for transgender rights whenever you have the chance. Protests and parades are affirming, but I think the most important place is in everyday life. Speak up to educate “the guys,” family and friends, the baseball team, even in places like your health care clinic or mosque or community center when the occasion warrants it. Every little bit helps.

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