175 trans people were murdered in Brazil last year, with violence continuing to spiral out of control under Jair Bolsonaro

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro. (Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)

At least 175 trans people were murdered in Brazil in 2020 under the watch of Jair Bolsonaro.

2020 was one of the deadliest years for trans people in Brazil since records began, according to advocacy group National Association of Travestis and Transexuals of Brazil (ANTRA). By its tally, a trans person was murdered every two days in a nation of 211 million, CenárioMT reported.

Last year, ANTRA said, saw a 29 per cent surge in violence in Brazil compared to the 124 deaths recorded in 2019. From 2017 to 2020, 641 trans people have been murdered.

The vast majority of the victims in 2020 were among the most marginalised groups in Brazilian society: Black people (78 per cent), those aged between 15 and 29 (56 per cent) and those engaged in sex work (72 per cent).

This “vulnerability”, the accompanying ANTRA report said, “exposes” them to violence.

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gay Pride

Revellers participate in the 2019 Sao Paulo Gay Pride parade. (Cris Faga/NurPhoto via Getty)

“It is exactly within this scenario that the overwhelming majority of  victims are found, having been pushed into prostitution compulsorily due to lack of opportunities, being in high social vulnerability and exposed to the highest rates of violence, to all sorts of physical and psychological aggression,” the report read.

A startling figure captured the apparent impunity felt by violent transphobes: seven out of every 10 trans deaths in Brazil occurred in a public space.

The southern state of São Paulo saw the highest amount of transphobic killings, with 29 trans people slain.

Ceará followed with 22 murders and Bahia, with 19. All three states in Brazil have for four consecutive years tallied the highest number of murders.

This violence is unsurprising, activists say, considering the rise of Brazil’s president Jair Bolasonaro, a self-described “proud homophobe“.

And the death toll may be even higher, they warn. Many killings of trans Brazilians are mishandled by the authorities – victims misgendered and deadnames used in police records, rippling into media reports – meaning that deaths can go unreported in Brazil.

Among those that were reported were the deaths of Dorothy de Lima, gunned down after masked men burst into a bar; Joana Domingos, shot seven times as she stood outside her apartment, and Chiara Duarte, who was thrown out of a seventh-floor building.