While the country is legitimately focused on the increasing police violence directed at African-American males in places like Ferguson, hardly any media outlets are speaking about the summer of violence against transgender women of color. With the murder of Alejandra Leos this past weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, a total of eight transwomen of color have been murdered in the summer of 2014. The other victims of violence include: Kandy Hall, Tiffany Edwards, Zoraida Eles Reyes, Yaz'Min Sanchez, Camila Dove, Brittany Nicole Kidd and Betty Skinner. Alejandra was shot outside of her home by her boyfriend, a victim of domestic violence. The other transwomen of color killed in this summer of violence, however, were often "dumped and discarded", demonstrating that certain lives have less value within our society. The increased attention to the fact that black lives matter in the media regarding Mike Brown and Ferguson has not extended to transwomen of color. In New York, the Transwomen of Color Collective demands to know when their lives will matter.
Transwomen of color face the most violence out of any transgender population, and also face the most forms of discrimination within larger society. While Laverne Cox and other transwomen of color are gaining public recognition within the media, the lives of these women remain precarious and potentially dangerous. The media often does not help make the situation better by misgendering the women who were murdered. The LGBTQ community needs to focus on the increased violence against trans gender women of color, and one major first step is to donate to the funeral fund for Alejandra started by the Gun Violence Survivor's Foundation (100 percent of the donation will actually go to help Alejandra's family pay for her funeral). In addition, increased blogging, tweeting and opinion editorial writing will bring increased public attention to the violence against other black lives that matter. The hashtag #rememberAlejandra is being utilized on twitter in order to honor Alejandra's memory and prevent her name from being silenced and forgotten.
Alejandra's murder, as well as the murder of the seven other transwomen listed earlier, points to the deep problems our society has in valuing bodies of color. Taking the murders of transwomen of color into account with the large numbers of unarmed men of color by the police demonstrates that bodies of color simply do not matter in the same way that other bodies do. While Ferguson residents protest in the streets, demanding justice for the murder of Mike Brown, the rest of the country holds its breath in anticipation of the trial. As of right now, most police officers involved in the murders of unarmed youth, such as Oscar Grant, have been found innocent. Even civilians such as George Zimmerman were found innocent of murder. The legacy of continual injustice towards bodies of color makes me wonder if Darren Wilson will also be found innocent.
To donate for Alejandra's funeral fund, please follow the link.