Jun 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Thousands rally for black trans lives in New York City

 A Caucasian protester holds a homemade sign made from a box that says, "Black Trans Lives Matter No Justice No Peace" during a protest in  New York on June 12

Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched to New York City's Brooklyn Museum on Sunday to support black transgender Americans.

Why it matters: The deaths of two black transgender women in recent days that are being investigated as homicides have prompted calls to tackle transphobia, per CBS News. Black trans women are "particularly vulnerable because they face multiple kinds of discrimination," Beverly Tillery from the LGBTQ+ nonprofit NYC Anti-Violence Project told Time Magazine on Friday.

"Not only are members of this community trans, but they are also black, women and often poor. All of the discrimination results in people often living lives that are just more vulnerable to violence. You have a job that is more tenuous, you live in places that are more tenuous ... people look at you and they don’t care about your existence and they don’t value your life."
— Excerpt from Tillery's comments to Time
  • Transgender people, as part of the LGBTQ+ community, are facing multiple legal challenges from the Trump administration to weaken protections against workplace and health care discrimination, per Axios' Orion Rummler.
  • On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule to reverse protections for transgender people established under the Affordable Care Act.

Details: Among the speakers at the Brooklyn event were the family of Layleen Polanco — a transgender woman whose death in custody on Rikers Island last year triggered an outcry from LGBTQ+ activists and bail reform advocates, per NBC News.

  • Polanco was "arrested last April on misdemeanor assault charges and held on $500 bail dating back to a 2017 prostitution charge," NBC reports.
  • Polanco's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit after surveillance camera footage showed guards spent some 90 minutes trying to wake her up before calling for help.

Of note: Violence was the cause of at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. in 2019, most of whom were black transgender women, per Human Rights Watch

  • Days before the demonstration, police launched separate homicide investigations into the deaths of two black women — Riah Milton in Ohio and Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells in Philadelphia.

Go deeper: HHS rolls back Obama-era transgender health care protections

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