January 1st through February 22nd of 2015 saw the murders of seven transgendered women in the United States. The majority of these women were women of color. There has been no national commemoration of the lives lost, no mourning on behalf of these victims in the public sphere.
In an article for Slate, Parker Marie Molloy points out that after Leelah Alcorn’s suicide in late 2014 she became the most talked about transgendered person in a six-month period. The seventeen-year-old suicide victim earned a mention in the Golden Globes telecast this year. By contrast, the name of Zoraida Reyes, murdered in June 2014, is nowhere to be seen.
In an article for Socialist Worker, Rachel Cohen points out that the scant few local news reports covering these women’s deaths often focus on names and genders assigned to the victims at birth instead of the names they’ve chosen and their real gender identities. In the case of Goddess Edwards, the Louisville, KY police department’s representative went as far as to state “As far as I am concerned, that was a man that was shot. It was always a man.” Thus, her gender was “never a factor” in her murder.
Why does being a woman of color make Reyes’s death less newsworthy? Why is it okay for a police department to decide a victim’s gender identity? The lack of compassionate corporate media coverage gives the impression that the deaths of transgendered women of color are not as important as their white counterparts. Not that corporate media considered their lives important in the first place.
Parker Marie Molloy, “Trans women of color deserve to be mourned as much as Leelah Alcorn,” Slate, February 13, 2015, http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/02/13/while_the_media_focuses_on_leelah_alcorn_murders_of_trans_women_of_color.html.
Rachel Cohen, “An epidemic of deadly anti-trans violence,” Socialist Worker, March 18, 2015, http://socialistworker.org/2015/03/18/an-epidemic-of-anti-trans-violence.
Student Researcher: Caitlin McCoy (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)