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Transgender individuals face violence every day. It’s on all of us to put an end to it

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MAY 03, 2019

Dejanay Stanton. Tydi Dansbury. Nikki Enriquez. Dana Martin. Ashanti Carmon. London Moore.

These are just six of the 20 transgender individuals who were killed in the last year — that we know of.

The fact of the matter is that the data is unreliable, and we know the numbers are too low. So many transgender individuals go missing and are never found, while others’ deaths go unreported. The erasure of transgender people in official and legal documents is so pervasive that, oftentimes, communities never learn their actual gender identities at all.

In 2013, Kayla Moore — a Black transgender woman — died in Berkeley Police Department custody, sparking community outrage over alleged police misconduct. After Moore’s death, BPD continuously misgendered her in police reports and official documents, making the need for comprehensive reforms to police policies extremely apparent.

The department showed complete disregard for the humanity of transgender individuals in the way it handled Moore’s case. Police officers exist to serve and protect all communities, but how can they when research shows that nearly half of transgender people feel unsafe seeking police assistance?

Moore’s misgendering by BPD isn’t, by any means, an isolated event. Nationwide, nearly 74 percent of known victims of anti-transgender violence were misgendered in their initial police or media reports. This practice explicitly invalidates individuals’ gender identity and is a form of violence in and of itself. It’s time for police departments to reform their policies and unpack age-old biases to ensure that individuals seeking police intervention aren’t harmed instead of helped.

And it’s not just the police — media reports, community members and even friends and family members have consistently misgendered transgender people. So while it’s important to call out police on transphobic practices, everyone in the Berkeley community and beyond must also address their own biases. When community members fail to recognize the impact misgendering has, they uphold the exclusionary practices of powerful institutions such as police departments.

Incorporating inclusive practices into daily lives is as simple as introducing yourself with your pronouns and asking for — rather than assuming — the pronouns and gender identities of others. Beyond pronouns, community members must use their privilege to make spaces more accessible and inclusive for transgender people.

For years, transgender individuals have faced severely high rates of violence, discrimination and hostility in all areas of life. This oppression only increases when identities such as race, class or sexuality are considered. If our community truly believes in creating a safe world for transgender people, transphobia must be called out and addressed in all spaces — big or small.

Gigi Pierce. Roxana Hernández. Sasha Garden. Keanna Mattel. Shantee Tucker. Regina Denise Brown.

Remember their names. And stop ignoring the “T” in LGBTQ+.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019