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Remembering and protecting the trans community during Transgender Awareness Week

Monday marked the beginning of an important period that honors the transgender community and people who have been killed because they are trans.

Transgender Awareness Week reminds us of the importance of trans visibility. It is “a week when transgender people and their allies take action to bring attention to the trans community by educating the public about who transgender people are, sharing stories and experiences and advancing advocacy around issues of prejudice, discrimination and violence that affect the transgender community,” according to GLAAD, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

The week precedes Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which honors the lives lost to anti-trans violence in 2023 – another lethal year for the community. More than three-quarters of the trans people murdered so far this year were people of color, according to the Human Rights Campaign. More than two-thirds were killed with a gun. And more than half were Black trans women.

Graphic showing fatal acts of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming community

This violence follows a deadly 2022, when that year’s Trans Day of Remembrance saw five people murdered and 34 injured in a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The rampage, which claimed the lives of two trans people, was part of a 40% increase in anti-transgender hate crime incidents in 2022.

Harassment, attacks on health care

As for 2023, hundreds of schools, libraries, businesses, hospitals and LGBTQ+ events have been targeted for harassment by far-right extremists, many repeating anti-trans disinformation, slogans and threats.

Right-wing politicians have helped fulfill the goals of anti-LGBTQ+ groups by passing laws limiting LGBTQ+ rights and jeopardizing LGBTQ+ lives through bans on gender-affirming care. As these new restrictions exacerbate existing systemic inequalities, trans people of color as well as unhoused and impoverished trans people are more likely to lose access to lifesaving medical care. Overall, more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ laws were introduced in 2023, including anti-LGBTQ+ book bans, drag bans and other weaponized legislation.

As we recognize the trans community this month, we must recommit to opposing attacks on this community. It means speaking out against hate and violence, dispelling anti-trans myths and taking a stand against legislating anti-trans hate. It is the most powerful way to honor the trans lives we have lost and to protect the lives of those within the community.

R.G. Cravens is a senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

Illustration at top by SPLC