On October 21st, officers with the Nueces County Sheriff’s office discovered the body of 47 Stephanie Montez, a transgender woman, in a Corpus Christi, TX, suburb. Montez, who was shot to death, became what is believed to be the 24th transgender person killed this year, making 2017 the deadliest year for the trans community on record in the United States.
It can be difficult to track the killing of trans people in the U.S.; shifting, and not-always-public gender identities, coupled with misgendered reporting by both police and media (early reports of Montez’s death referred to her as a man “wearing a dress and make up”) are persistent complicating factors in compiling a comprehensive list. However, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 2017 had seen “at least 23 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means,” before Montez’s death. With just over two months to go in the year, that’s already one more than last year’s total of 23—the former record.
This comes as the trans community finds itself under renewed attack by the Trump administration, which has sought to roll back already existing protections and actively discriminated against trans people serving in the military. What’s more, 20 states still do not prosecute attacks based on gender identity as a hate crime (four of those states have no hate crime laws at all).
According to a recent National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs hate crime report, the rate of LGBTQ survivors of hate crimes going to police has actually dropped from 54% in 2014 to 41% in 2015, with 80% of those who do reach out to law enforcement reporting indifferent—or even hostile—reactions. What’s more, as HRC notes:
It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable
With two months left in 2017, it’s entirely possible that the number of trans people killed will continue to rise before the year’s end.