According to statistics, the acceptance of LGB people across the United States is on the rise. Sadly, the same cannot be said about trans* acceptance which appears to be on the decline.
Even as famous trans women of colour such as Laverne Cox (who plays trans inmate Sophia Burset in Orange is the New Black) and outspoken advocate Janet Mock gain popularity, the benefits of positive reputation aren’t being reaped by everybody in the trans* community. Instead, recently the US has seen a notable uptick in trans* hate crimes including verbal abuse, violence and sometimes even murder.
It’s murder that another trans woman of colour has again been faced with, with the Los Angeles Police Department (the LAPD) reporting that her death took place on Wednesday the 3rd of December. It signals the third murder of a trans woman of colour in just six months.
According to the LAPD, the victim, Deshawnda Sanchez, was fleeing after being robbed. Sanchez called 911 at 4am before running to a cul-de-sac, banging on the door of a Compton home in an attempt to find safety. Unfortunately, by the time the occupant of the house was able to let her in, gunshots were fired and the person who was chasing Sanchez had left her for dead and had driven away from the scene of the crime in a “light coloured compact car”.
Officially, the police are classing the tragic events as a robbery and homicide, however, as Sanchez was a trans woman of colour Los Angeles police Det. Christopher Barling has said that they are considering that it may have been a hate crime. Barling told Buzzfeed News that he is “very open to the fact that may be the case”.
It’s especially important that they look into that line of inquiry given that the murders of trans women of colour are on the rise at an alarming rate. Sanchez’ death signals the third in just a matter of months with Aniya Knee Parker and trans activist Zoraida “Ale” Reyes also having been killed in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Furthermore, a report published by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations notes that 19 trans* people were targeted in violent hate crimes in 2013, making that a 46% increased on the year before (there were 13 attacks in 2012). With shocking statistics like these it’s all the more important that the LAPD finds the perpetrator and brings them to justice, marking a small step in preventing more crimes like these from happening.