US: HRC calls for stronger protection of transgender women

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The Human Rights Commission, in response to the murder of Mia Henderson in Baltimore, has called for stronger laws to protect transgender women.

Henderson, 26, was the second transgender woman murdered in Baltimore this summer. Kandy Hall, a 40-year-old transgender woman was also murdered in Balitmore this past June.

Jeff Krehely, HRC Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer, says more effort needs to go into protecting the transgender community.

He said: “We need a concerted effort to raise awareness that transgender people are an important part of the community and to address the persistent issues of violence and poverty facing so many in the transgender community.”

Both Henderson and Hall were murdered only months after Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a historic statewide non-discrimination act. The bill included language relevant to gender identity and gender expression.

Krehely stated: “The importance of the statewide non-discrimination bill in Maryland cannot be overstated. We need to continue to move these protections at the state and federal level, but the truth is that while policy change is critical, it is insufficient in and of itself.”

Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Marketing and Communication, said: “Even as the transgender community experiences historic visibility in the mainstream media and increasingly inclusive protections under the law, the reality is that for far too many transgender individuals – particularly poor and working class transgender women of color – violence and brutality are facts of their every day existence.”

Henderson, who was African American, was part of demographic at a severely increased risk of being the victims of violence and homocide.

Homicide rates for the LGBT community, documented in 2013 and 2012 are among the highest ever recorded by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programmes. Almost 90% of homicide victims in 2013 were people of colour, with over two thirds of homicide victims being non-white trans women.

HRC is asking for local government to raise the visibility of the transgender community and to protect its citizens.

Krehely stated: “We call upon states and municipalities to raise the visibility of the transgender community and to help transgender workers through focused employment and other anti-poverty programs. Only then will we begin to curb this epidemic of violence facing transgender women.”