Tribute to Paloma Vazquez, a Latina trans woman remembered by her community

More than 10,000 hate crimes in the United States involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 a day, according to a 2020 report by HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Killing Countless LGBTQ People. The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, particularly against transgender people. According to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-quarters of confirmed homicides against transgender people involved a firearm, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of black trans women involve a firearm. Additionally, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019.

At the state level, transgender and gender nonconforming people in Texas are not protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public spaces. Although Texas includes sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not expressly include gender identity. While we have recently seen political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 270 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered in state legislatures across the country, with more than 110 of these directly targeting transgender people.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton sparked national outrage by pushing state officials to actively investigate and target parents of transgender teens for what the governor mistakenly calls “child abuse.” children”. This stands in stark contrast to guidelines issued by the Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services which specify that child welfare agencies have an obligation to protect transgender youth, including with respect to gender-affirming care. In response, HHS issued guidelines stating that health care providers are not required to disclose their patients’ private information, including gender-affirming care information. HHS also issued guidelines saying it is illegal to deny health care based on gender identity and outlined steps for filing a civil rights complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while considering all possible means to make the end of this violence a reality. It is clear that lethal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, particularly black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia combine to deprive them of the necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for all members of the trans and gender nonconforming community.

  • More resources: Read more about cases of fatal violence followed by the HRC whose details are unclear. You can find a list of such cases here.

  • Watch this PSA campaign elevating stories of joy and trans love.

  • Join HRC’s CountMeIn campaign to take action on behalf of transgender and non-binary people.

  • Read these guidelines and FAQs for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.

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