As more transgender people are killed than any year on record, Biden called for greater visibility of people who express themselves as the gender they identify with
Vice-President Joe Biden mourned Friday the deaths of transgender people – the latest in a series of world leaders to mourn those that died – and called for greater attention to their experience.
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“Despite a decade-long decline in hate crimes against transgender people, this has been the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans,” said Biden, in a statement posted to the White House’s website. “This can’t be the new normal. We have to prevent future tragedies.”
Biden, who will leave the White House next January, and many other world leaders were participating in International Transgender Day of Remembrance (it is a national holiday in many other countries) today, the first since Donald Trump took office and pledged to roll back Obama administration rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment and education. The group, Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, dubbed the day Uniting Behind Survivors of Trans Murder.
Javier Osorio-Sanchez, 32, died in a Chicago park last year. Photograph: Victoria Mack/The Guardian
The total number of American transgender homicides this year, which was to end today, could be even higher.
Osorio-Sanchez, 32, a transgender man from Chicago, was found dead in a park last September. According to the Chicago Tribune, he is one of four trans people to have been shot dead in Chicago this year.
“It was such a horrific sight to see that I couldn’t even stand up,” Alisha Lozano, Osorio-Sanchez’s girlfriend, told the Washington Post. “Aisha was really sweet, he was very kind. And you just never expect the things you learn about people.”
Steve Lindley, 27, of Orange County, California, was killed in his home in July. Photograph: Canyon Lake police department
Choirboy Mizelle Johnson, 37, was the first documented death in the US this year of a transgender person who was not killed by a drug overdose. Johnson, who was known as Ally, was found dead on 20 July in an apartment building’s laundry room in Orange County, California.
An eye witness reported seeing a woman in a dark sweater and blue pants entering the laundry room, but no charges have been filed in connection with the death.
Phoebe Marsden, 35, was found dead in the bathtub at her apartment in Edmonton, Canada, in April. Photograph: /usr/Getty Images
Biden, who has often given space for trans people in speeches at political events, also called on viewers to support the Trans-Inclusive Student Accessibility Act, which would prohibit schools from excluding transgender students from locker rooms, restrooms and other accommodations.
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The Trans-Inclusive Student Accessibility Act has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.
“We stand with those struggling to come to terms with their gender identity and their identity as a child,” said Biden. “Many families struggle to come to terms with the fact that their child is different. Families need to understand that things have changed.”