The recent shooting of a transgender woman and her mother in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia has left a community wondering when transphobic violence will end, and how much is being done to stop it?
On the evening of October 7th, a transgender woman and her mother were shot in their Northern Liberties home, killing the mother and leaving the woman in critical condition. While the motivation for the shooting has been stated to be robbery, none of the other occupants of the house were harmed. This shooting comes just a month after the murder of Kyra Cordova, a Philadelphia transgender woman who was active in AIDS education and outreach. Two years ago, Stacey Blahnik, a transgender woman, was found strangled to death in her Philadelphia home. No arrests have been made in the case, nor suspect identified. Likewise, no suspects have been identified in the murder of Kyra Cordova. While we can’t be sure what happened on the evening of October 7th, we can continue to seek answers until justice is found for the victims of transphobic violence.
Rates of violent crime are high in Philadelphia, and affect citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, individuals identifying as trans face higher rates of violence and discrimination in almost every aspect of life, including employment, health care, and access to public services. The lack of government advocacy for trans rights in Pennsylvania, particularly Philadelphia, is disheartening, and disturbing. Trans individuals are just as much citizens as cisgender individuals are, and deserve full protection under the law. It sounds so obvious, yet, statistics show that trans individuals nationwide are subject to mistreatment by the justice system, as well as their neighbors, families, and community.
Washington DC is particularly infamous for a recent series of unsolved murders of trans individuals. However, the DC community is taking steps to make their city more aware of trans issues. This fall, the Washington DC Office of Human Rights launched a historic advertising campaign advocating for respect for all gender identities. While a visibility campaign can’t heal years of transphobic violence, they show that DC is taking an official stand against the hatred of trans people.
Pennsylvania communities need to take a public stand against hate as well. The 2nd Annual Philly Trans March last week was groundbreaking and significantly important for rallying trans advocates. Thinking proactively: an organized City government campaign that promotes the acceptance of trans Philadelphians could help gain widespread support against this violence. While it would not end transphobia overnight, it could be the first step in ending a legacy of unsolved murders.
Victoria Martin is a second year student at West Chester University. She is originally from Shippensburg, PA in Cumberland County. She can be reached at email@example.com.