COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – NOVEMBER 21: People visit a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On Saturday evening, a 22-year-old gunman entered the LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 25 others before being stopped by club patrons. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
As the LGBTQ community observed Transgender Day of Remembrance last week, it woke to further losses.
After a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs just before midnight on Nov. 19, police said a man armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a handgun killed five people and injured at least 19. Among the victims were Kelly Loving, a trans woman and Daniel Aston, a trans man.
Preliminary charges against the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, include five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime, known in some areas as a hate crime.
In an interview with a San Diego TV station after the shooting, Aldrich’s estranged father reacted to the killings by saying his son wasn’t gay and expressing relief, as it would have conflicted with the family’s Mormon faith.
“You know Mormons don’t do gay,” Aaron Franklin Brink told the station. “We don’t do gay. There’s no gays in the Mormon church. We don’t do gay.”
The LGBTQ community in America has for years faced a rising tide of hateful rhetoric, threats and violence. Transgender people — particularly transgender women of color — are disproportionately its targets.
Last week, President Joe Biden addressed the problem in a statement on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“In the face of this ongoing assault, my Administration remains deeply committed to strengthening the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans, including transgender Americans,” Biden said in the statement. “Since taking office, we have made it possible for transgender service members to once again serve proudly and openly in our military, improved the travel experience for transgender Americans, and provided resources to support the mental health of transgender kids and their families.”
“I’ve directed my team to coordinate across the federal government to combat violence against transgender people and advance equality,” Biden said. “I continue to urge state leaders to combat the disturbing wave of discriminatory state laws targeting young transgender Americans—legislation that hurts young people who aren’t hurting anyone. With Congress poised to pass the bipartisan Respect For Marriage Act, I also reiterate my call for them to likewise pass the Equality Act and provide long overdue protections to transgender and all LGBTQI+ Americans.”
“This is a matter of safety and basic dignity,” Biden said. “As we mourn the lives we’ve lost, let us resolve to continue building a country where every American can live free from fear and discrimination.”
The scope of transgender Americans lost to violence each year is difficult to fully grasp. Many transgender people are misgendered by their families and authorities both before and after their deaths. Others are not out to their families and their communities. Experts agree the numbers for transgender people lost each year in America are, therefore, almost certainly subject to a dramatic undercount.
The National Center for Transgender Equality publishes an annual report on Transgender Day of Remembrance, culled from multiple sources, to give as accurate a picture as possible.
This week, a by-the-numbers look at the violent losses in the transgender community.
[Sources: The National Center for Transgender Equality’s Remembrance Report for 2022]
47 – Number of transgender Americans confirmed as lost to violence in 2022, according to the Remembrance Report for 2022
40 – Number of those victims who were transgender women
Five trans men were confirmed to have met violent deaths, one non-binary person and one person who identified as two spirit, a term used by some indigenous people to describe their gender identity.
As this year’s remembrance report was compiled before the mass shooting at Club Q, at least two new deaths join that tally — one trans woman and one trans man.
32 – Number of those victims who died through gun violence
30 – Number of those transgender people who were Black, by far the largest ethnic or racial group among the victims
Eight of the recorded victims were white, six Latinx, two Asian American and Pacific Islander, and one indigenous.
7 – Number of transgender people who died through violence this year in Texas, the state with the highest number
There were five violent deaths counted in Florida, and four in Michigan and Pennsylvania respectively. There were three violent deaths counted in both California and Wisconsin. Six states counted two violent deaths each: Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. Among the nine states that counted one violent death were: Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington.
Trans Lifeline is a peer support phone service run by trans people for trans and questioning peers. The line can be reached at 877-565-8860. More information can be found at TransLifeLine.org/hotline.
The Trevor Project provides 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ young people. The project can be reached at 866-488-7386 or by texting 678678. Online support through chat can be had at TheTrevorProject.org/section/get-help
The deadline to take the U.S. Trans Survey has been extended to Dec. 5. The study, the largest survey of trans people by trans people, documents the lives and experiences of trans and nonbinary people ages 16+ in the U.S. and U.S. territories. More information on the survey and how to take it here.
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