Transgender women facing 'epidemic' of deadly violence amid increasing public profile

Campaigners say at least 17 transgender women have been killed so far this year

Andrew Buncombe@AndrewBuncombe
Friday 21 August 2015 15:38
Tamara Dominguez was killed in Kansas City
Tamara Dominguez was killed in Kansas City

It was 3am when Tamara Dominguez was hit by a black Chevy Avalanche in Kansas City. Witnesses said the driver then drove over her body several times.

While the family of Ms Dominguez mourn their loss after the incident last Saturday, activists have revealed that the 36-year-old was one of 17 transgender to have been murdered this year.

They say that an increasing of awareness of transgender people has taken place alongside an alarming rise in violence against members of the community, with most of the victims being black or hispanic. The 17 killings so far this year compare to 12 in all of 2014.

They say it is impossible to determine whether there is a direct correlation between the violence and the increase in media reports about high-profile transgender people such as Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning, as there is insufficient data to create a baseline.

Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) told The Independent said there could be a number of factors behind what she was an “epidemic rate” of violence, including better reporting.

She added: “But it could be a backlash. There is concern that the more visible we are, the more vulnerable we are.”

Ms Dominguez’s family says police found her car near Independence Avenue. They still say they do not know why she was in that area or whom she may have been with in the car.

One friend, Juan Rendon, told the KCTV5 channel it was hard to believe she was dead.

“I was like, ‘They are playing. They are joking’. Because she liked to play like that,” she said.

Caroline Gibbs, of the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, said: “There’s this horrible dark underbelly of hatred that goes on and on and on and on and it must stop.”

The killing of Ms Dominguez was the latest in a flurry of incidents to have played out this summer.

The attack on her – which police in Kansas city are investigating as a possible hate crime - followed the discovery of the body of a missing transgender woman in a shallow grave near Smithfield, North Carolina.

Elisha Walker, 20, who was black, had not been seen by her family since October 2014. A person has been arrested in connection with her death.

The discovery of her body came just days after the shooting of Kandis Capri, 35, a black transgender woman who was shot and killed near an apartment complex in Phoenix, Arizona.

“The killings of Kandis Capri, Elisha Walker, and Tamara Dominguez are terrible tragedies, and we send our support to surviving friends and family,” said Chai Jindasurat, at the New York AVP.

“This crisis of violence is killing transgender people, particularly transgender women of colour, at alarming rates in 2015.

“We call on public officials, community leaders, and community members to act now to try and prevent violence against transgender people. We cannot do this work alone, and everyone has a part in ending this violence.”

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