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2021 marks deadliest year yet for transgender people in the U.S.

This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance comes amid a grim milestone in the LGBTQ community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 was the deadliest year yet for those who are transgender or non-binary, with at least 47 people killed since January 1.

Human Rights Campaign unveiled the latest numbers on Thursday, when 36-year-old Angel Naira became the 47th transgender or gender non-conforming person violently killed this year. Naira, according to HRC, was found fatally shot in her Pennsylvania home on November 11. 

Naira’s death marks the fifth reported instance of fatal violence towards a transgender or gender-non conforming person in Pennsylvania in 2021, HRC said, the most in any U.S. state or territory. Earlier this year, siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, 16, who was transgender, and Jasmine Cannady, 22, who was non-binary, were killed in the Keystone State, according to HRC. 

In 2020, six transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed in Puerto Rico, the most of any U.S. state or territory that year. 

While 47 is the highest annual number of transgender people killed in the U.S. to date, HRC noted that the true toll could be even higher, as “too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.” Most of the victims are women of color.

Reported cases of violence against transgender and non-binary individuals has escalated in recent years. Prior to this year, 2020 saw the highest number of deaths, HRC said, when 44 transgender or non-binary people were killed. HRC started tracking violence against transgender people in 2013. 

On Saturday, President Biden issued a statement marking the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and lamenting the “horrifying acts of violence.” 

“Each of these lives was precious. Each of them deserved freedom, justice, and joy,” Mr. Biden said. “…Transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But no person should have to be brave just to live in safety and dignity. Today, we remember. Tomorrow — and every day — we must continue to act.” 

The year of deadly violence comes after a surge in legislation seeking to limit access to sports and health care for transgender children. Mr. Biden specifically called out those efforts in his statement on Saturday, saying that lawmakers need to “combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation.” 

Between the start of 2020 to April of this year, more than 75 bills specifically targeted transgender youth were introduced. Several more have been proposed since. 

“These bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation, they are un-American, and they endanger the safety and well-being of our children,” Mr. Biden said. 

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts memorialized the transgender people killed so far this year by reading their names aloud in a speech on the House floor.  

“The cruelty of transphobia is a threat that we must confront and root out wherever it exists,” Pressley said. “Whether in music, or on television, or in the hallowed halls of the nation’s Capitol. There is no place for hatred because someone is brave enough to show up exactly as they are, and to live their truth.”



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