Protesters demand justice for murdered transgender women as Trump unveils harmful new policies

Protesters gathered in New York on Friday 24 May to demand an end to the killings of black transgender women and urge the Trump administration to abandon its proposals to reverse transgender rights.

Heard chanting “black lives matter” and “we will not be erased,” the activists addressed the increasing number of violent acts carried out against black transgender women throughout the United States.

Since the beginning of 2019, five have been killed in total; three of which suffered fatal gunshot wounds within eight days of one another in Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia. Their names were Claire Legato, 21, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, and Michelle Washington, 40, respectively.

“I am tired of my sisters being killed”

According a report by the Human Rights Campaign, 26 transgender women were killed in 2018. Tragically though, it is believed that the amount of deaths could be even higher but because police often identify victims by their gender assigned at birth rather than the person’s gender identity, the records can be inaccurate.

It is also suspected that many incidents go unreported.

Among the demonstrators taking part in the ‘Keep Your Hands Off Trans Bodies’ rally in Washington Square Park, five individuals – all veiled and dressed in white – stood silently as they held up photographs of the transgender women killed in recent months. Meanwhile, the crowd waved picketed signs with slogans on them and cried, “Justice! Speak out, stand up for black trans women.”

“I am tired of my sisters being killed,” protest leader Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group told the 200 marchers who attended the event.

Rolling back on policies set up by the Obama administration

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking to rollback the transgender health care protections put in place by the Obama administration in 2016. While the latter explicitly prohibited discrimination based on “gender identity,” the former now states that it should not be considered a legitimate factor.

President Donald Trump’s administration recently announced that ‘gender identity’ will no longer be acknowledged when it comes to healthcare or discrimination accusations (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“This is cruel and essentialist, and just plain evil,” writer and LGBT rights advocate Charlie Jane Anders said of the proposal on Twitter. “The end goal is to marginalize and dehumanize trans people, but the interim effect will just be to kill a lot of us by denying us access to basic health services.”

The administration also unveiled a new rule under the Department of Housing and Urban Development that allows homeless shelters to turn away transgender people on religious grounds. Similarly, healthcare providers can opt out of treating gay, gender non-conforming and transgender patients.