At any time, let alone during Pride Month, this is not what we want to be sharing with you, but it’s clear that around the country, trans people, and in particular, Black trans women, are under attack.
In the most recent move by the federal government to deny basic core protections for the LGBTQ community, the federal administration has finalized a rule that will allow health insurers and providers to discriminate against patients on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The decision rolls back federal protections established during the Obama era Affordable Care Act and puts transgender people in particular at risk in the midst of a pandemic. Further, it amplifies the disparities that Black transgender people face, not just during COVID, but in terms of racist and economic oppression.
“We hear consistently from Black transgender folks that the battle to visit the doctor or have their concerns and their experiences heard is ongoing and is extremely exhausting, sometimes leading to their deaths,” said Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. “It’s apparent that change isn’t going to come from the top. It’s going to come from us, yet again, fighting back for our own community. And we will never stop fighting.”
While Oregon has specific and explicit protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in health care, housing, employment, and more, not every state has these protections, which means LGBTQ community members who move and travel may be at risk.
The reports from TransLifeline shows what’s at stake in this fight. Most recently, the Lifeline’s calls related to COVID have increase exponentially, Calls related to an inability to access medical care have doubled and calls related to domestic violence are up 300%.
It’s vital that we all understand that each number is a real person in our community. They are real people who are experiencing this violence. Just recently, Casa Ruby, a D.C.-based LGBTQ community services center reported that they were the subject of death threats when the ex-husband of a trans woman who is a client said he would enact a “massacre” on Casa Ruby staff.
For Black trans folks, particularly Black trans women, this threat against their lives continues, as Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells (Above left), a Black trans woman, was found murdered in Philadelphia this week. Riah Milton (Above right), a Black trans woman in Ohio, was killed on Tuesday.
“The fight for Black trans lives has been ongoing. It’s at the core of what so many of us have been working towards. It’s going to take all of us in the LGBTQ community lifting up the voices and experiences of Black trans folks, forever, to experience a sea change,” said Nancy Haque. “And it absolutely can’t wait, because people’s lives are on the line right now.”