US

Joe Biden mourns ‘deadliest year on record’ for trans Americans: ‘Each of these lives was precious’

Josh Milton November 21, 2021
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US president Joe Biden speaks

US president Joe Biden. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US president Joe Biden honoured the dozens of trans people lost to a “horrifying” wave of violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

On Saturday (20 November), the world grew silent as countless memorialised and celebrated the lives of victims of anti-trans violence.

Among them was Biden, who in a White House news release paid tribute to “those we lost in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans”.

The White House later hosted a vigil in recognition of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people lost to violence, with second gentleman Doug Emhoff leading the ceremony.

But seemingly capturing the extent of the climate of fear felt by trans Americans, Biden’s address was out of date mere moments after it was published.

“This year, at least 46 transgender individuals in this country […] were killed in horrifying acts of violence,” Biden said.

On the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, grassroots and national activist groups came to understand that two more trans women had been slain. Bringing the death toll to 48.

Joe Biden: Slain trans people ‘deserved freedom, justice and joy’

“Each of these lives was precious,” the president said. “Each of them deserved freedom, justice and joy.

“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn those we lost in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, as well as the countless other transgender people — disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls — who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment.”

Biden reflected on how as much as LGBT+ rights have been strengthened in the books, this has not necessarily trickled down to queer people’s safety. Instead, trans folk in particular live in a state of heightened vigilance and fear, Biden said.

People hold photos of transgender victims, killed for who they are, during the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Washington square park in New York. (KENA BETANCUR / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

He urged the Senate to at long last pass the Equality Act, a landmark piece of legislation that would enshrine sweeping protections for LGBT+ people.

“I continue to call on state leaders and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children,” he continued.

“As I have said before, these bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation, they are un-American and they endanger the safety and well-being of our children.”

While tallies may vary from group to group, the Human Rights Campaign has long warned that violence against trans people has been on the rise for years.

The uptick of violence this year, some experts say, is the upshot of four years of hostility against trans people openly spewed by the Trump administration.

Tyianna Alexandra, a 28-year-old Black trans woman, was murdered in Chicago, Illinois, on 6 January, becoming the first known violent killing of a trans person in 2021.

Since then, the community has mourned across 2021: Samuel Edmund Damián ValentínBianca BankzDominique JacksonFifty BandzAlexus BraxtonChyna CarrilloJeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ SandersRayanna PardoDominique LuciousJaida PetersonRemy FennellTiara BanksNatalia Smüt, Iris SantosTiffany ThomasJahaira DeAlto BalenciagaKeri WashingtonSophie Vásquez, Danny HensonWhispering Bear Spirit, Serenity HollisOliver ‘Ollie’ TaylorThomas HardinPoe BlackNovaa Watson, Aidelen Evans, Taya AshtonShai VanderpumpTierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Brianna HamiltonKiér Laprí Kartier, Mel GrovesRoyal Poetical StarzZoella Rose MartinezJo Acker, Jessi HartRikkey Outommuro, Marquiisha LawrenceJenny De Leon, Angel Naira and Danyale Johnson.

“Transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know,” Biden added in the statement. “But no person should have to be brave just to live in safety and dignity.

“Today, we remember. Tomorrow — and every day — we must continue to act.”

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