Support for Black Trans Rights Echoes Across the Country

Just two weeks ago, Iyanna Dior, a 20-year-old Black trans woman, was beaten by several people in Minneapolis, Minn., after she accidentally hit other vehicles while attempting to move a friend’s car. As a result of the accident, she was harassed by people yelling homophobic slurs, causing her to flee. Many of them followed Dior and brutally attacked her outside a convenience store.

The attack was caught on video and went viral online, causing an uproar on social media, with many demanding justice for Dior. Fortunately, she only suffered minor injuries from the attack, and many have donated money to support her. Unfortunately, Dior’s attack speaks volumes about the mistreatment trans women, and Black trans women in particular, face everyday.

Soon after Dior’s assault, two Black trans women, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, 27, and Riah Milton, 25, were murdered within just 24 hours of each other. Fells’s remains were found on June 8 in Philadelphia, and Milton was shot during a robbery attempt the next day. 

The news of their deaths sparked outrage and fueled online conversations about the violence Black trans folks face.

Even prominent political figures got involved in the conversation, expressing their support on social media:

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been 15 reported murders of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020 so far, which follows a total of 26 reported murders that occurred just last year. As a result of media misreports, negligence by authorities and misidentification, the violence experienced is often underreported. The murders of Fells and Milton only add to the epidemic levels of violence that disproportionately impact trans women of color. 

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As news broke about the murders, protests surged throughout the country calling for support for the Black trans community and demanding justice and fair treatment. One protest in Brooklyn, New York—led by trans women—saw thousands take to the streets on Sunday, with many activists saying Black trans lives are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Much like New York, Los Angeles showed up in solidarity for Black trans lives during its All Black Lives Matter march, which began in Hollywood and ended in West Hollywood. This march was also intended to bring attention to the murder of George Floyd last month, as well as other Black lives lost to police brutality.  

Even with thousands of people coming together across the country to bring attention to Black trans lives, it is evident there is much more work that needs to be done.

Alongside the protests, social media was filled with calls for people to donate, if they could, to Black trans-led organizations, which continue to support their communities during these trying times. Many organizations such as the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Okra Project and G.L.I.T.S. continue to do their part to support Black trans lives, from raising money to support Black trans people directly, to providing vital resources and meals worldwide.

Although many have shown their support on social media and on the ground via protests and marches, this support is not echoed in the White House: The Trump administration finalized a rule on Friday which would erase healthcare protections for transgender folks. This would allow hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies to discriminate against transgender individuals, which includes being able to deny them medical treatment. 

However, the fight continues—the Human Rights Campaign released a statement that it plans to sue the Trump administration for “attacking the basic right to be free.”


Michael Herrera is a contributor at Ms. Magazine. He studied at California State University, Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism as well as a minor in creative writing.