Violence Against Transgender Women of Color, An Epidemic

Written and reported by Kaley Fowler, October 2015

We will never forget Matt, but with each passing year as we reflect on the life lost in ‘98, we cannot ignore the lives that are still lost to hate and discrimination. This epidemic did not stop with Matt.

So far in 2015, 20 transgender women have been assaulted and killed in the U.S., a number that has already surpassed the total number of transgender homicide victims in 2014. A disproportionate number of these victims have been women of color.

For its 17th anniversary, the Matthew Shepard Foundation set out to bring this epidemic to the forefront of our efforts. The hate that claimed Matt’s life, that affects our community’s safety and security, is far from erased.

Part One: A Horrifying Reality

“In early August, about two weeks after her body was discovered in Dallas, 22-year-old Shade Schuler was identified as the 13th transgender woman killed in 2015. And that’s when the transgender community was faced with a horrifying truth: More trans women had been killed in the first eight months of this year than in 2014.”

Part Two: Losing her Twice: Trans Latina Marginalized, Even in Death

“Like many transgender people fleeing persecution, Tamara Dominguez left Mexico on asylum to escape the violence she faced for living as a trans woman. She immigrated to the United States with dreams of becoming an American citizen, and for years Tamara lived happily in Kansas City, Missouri, where she had a partner of eight years and a close-knit group of friends. Tamara was at a point in her life where she felt safe, accepted and welcome. But on Aug. 15, violence resurfaced in 36-year-old Tamara’s life. Around 3 a.m., witnesses saw her exit a black SUV driven by a man, who witnesses say then drove into Tamara and ran over her body multiple times before fleeing the scene.”

Part Three: Uplifting the Narrative: Murdered Trans Woman Lived to Inspire Others

“Amber Monroe knew her life had purpose. Even though she faced discrimination in every aspect of her life as a trans woman of color, she believed her hardships were the makings of a story that she would one day share to inspire others. ‘She had no problem speaking her mind and talking about her experience,’ said Bré Campbell, friend of Amber and executive director of the Trans Sista of Color Project in Detroit. ‘She was very bright in the ways in which she was able to recognize that all the bad things in her life were shaping her and molding her. She was very profound.’ Unfortunately, Amber will never have the chance to share her own story.”

Matthew Shepard FoundationFeatures