Trans people given self-defence kits as epidemic of violence shows no signs of slowing

Participant seen holding a pink coloured sign with blue lettering that reads "trans lives matter" at a protest

A healthcare clinic in Virginia is handing out self-defence kits to trans folk, as the epidemic of anti-trans violence shows no signs of slowing.

Health Brigade, a free medical clinic in Richmond, Virginia, offers a plethora of services to the local trans and non-binary community, from hormone therapy, to psychological support, to legal advice on name and gender changes.

But in the face of increasing violence against trans people, the clinic has now started handing out self-defence kits.

According to VPM News, the kits include pepper spray, a whistle and a keychain self-defence tool, a blunt object around five inches long with grooves to improve grip, and come in a cross-body bag for easy access.

Funded by a local attorney, the kits are an unfortunate necessity, with one 2021 study by the Williams Institute School of Law at UCLA showing that trans people are four times as likely as their cisgender counterparts to face physical violence in the US.

Cristina Kincaid, Health Brigade’s director of health outreach, said: “In having conversations with folks in our intake or during ongoing case management, we realised that a good number of our clients… were experiencing situations where they felt unsafe, or had experienced some type of violence.

“Providing someone with self-defence items is just another way that we can work with folks, meet them where they are, and help them with the things that they may need in their everyday lives to feel safe and then hopefully, also healthy.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has tracked at least 27 transgender and non-binary people violently killed in the US so far this year, and 2021 was the most deadly year on record for trans people in the US, with violence disproportionately affected trans women of colour.

But, as the HRC notes, many trans folk are “misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which can delay our awareness of deadly incidents”, driving mistrust among the trans community in those who are supposed to protect them.

Speaking to 6 News Richmond, Kincaid added: “Some trans folks may feel comfortable contacting law enforcement if they’re in a dangerous situation, some may not… The hope is that nobody will ever have to use it, but that somebody may feel a little more comfortable just in their every day life.”