[trigger warning: violence, murder, misgendering, trans violence]
The 13th murder of a trangender woman was confirmed this week. Shade Schuler, a 22 year old trans woman of color and Dallas native has been confirmed as the victim after two weeks of investigation. This announcement affirms that there have been the same amount of transgender woman victims in the first eight months of 2015 as the entire year of 2014. We like to think as trans visibility is increasing, discrimination is going down. However, the epidemic of violence is still growing.
Trans women of colour continue to be a highly marginalized group within our society. With the intersections of racism, classism, homophobia and transphobia, this group continues to be targeted at alarming and concerning rates.
Even more troubling, after the two weeks of identification the police and local Dallas news have continued to misgender Shade. She has been confirmed as being self-identifying as a woman, but should have her gender respected regardless of “official” confirmation by any other groups.
Not only is misgendering a form of abuse, which can trigger dysmorphia, and/or anxiety in the trans community, but on top of this it can also cause confusion for potential witnesses, causing problems for the criminal case. When you show a photograph of someone pre-transition, using their birth name and sex; aka using pro-nouns and aesthetics that don’t exist anymore, you make it very difficult for witnesses to come forward and help the case, as they may be unsure if they recognize the the victim. So essentially, the police and media are making it even harder for themselves due to their bigoted pride, not to mention the families of the victims who need justice.
The intensification of trans-specific violence hasn’t gone unnoticed. There has been an official petition launched for the Obama administration to investigate these murders and their underlying causes. Human Rights Campaign also released a report based on their survey that highlights what the transgender community needs the most right now. These include emergency housing support, trans-friendly healthcare initiatives, decreasing unemployment rates through partnerships, welcoming transgender students in the educational system and effective and sensitive training for all those in law enforcement.
Shade, and every other victim of gender and race based violence deserves justice and respect. Misgendering and inaction perpetuate a culture that looks to forget its own flaws and turn a blind eye.
We must say her name. And when we do, we say it loud.