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Two Transwomen of Color Killed the Same Week Trump Rescinds Health Care Protections

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 15, 2020

2020's tally of lethal anti-trans violence ratcheted up as two transwomen of color were killed last week - mere days before the Trump administration did away with Obama-era healthcare protections for trans Americans.

TIME Magazine reports that on June 8 the body of Dominique "Rem'Mie" Fells was found in the Schuykill River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her body had been mutilated, with both legs cut off. On June 9, Riah Milton was shot and killed in Liberty Township, Ohio; two suspects are in custody, and police are searching for a third suspect.

CBS News quoted Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David, who said in a statement from the organization:

"As our country faces a long-overdue reckoning with the violence and indignities that black people have dealt with for centuries, we must affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter.

"And we must do everything we can to ensure that we create policies and laws that lift up our transgender siblings and communities where transgender people are not targeted for who they are."

In a stroke of bureaucratic violence that is perhaps less immediately destructive but far wider-reaching, the Trump administration snatched discrimination protections in health care away from transgender Americans by revising its definition of who is covered by existing law.

As TIME Magazine reports:

The new regulation defines gender as biological sex and would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for transition-related treatments.

The change was announced on June 12 - the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre, in which 49 victims, many of them LGBTQ people of color, were murdered by a single gunman. The mass shooting is one of the bloodiest in U.S. history and the deadliest attack on LGBTQ people in modern times.

By contrast, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to memorialize both victims of anti-trans violence.

The Human Rights Campaign tracks reports of lethal anti-trans violence, and even though it's thought that many instances of violence targeting trans people are either left unreported or else misreported, the numbers of trans fatalities - especially transwomen of color - has surged in recent years.

Reports the HRC:

In 2019, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of at least transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women.

The HRC also notes that:

2020 has already seen at least 14 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.

The recent protests against police brutality targeting African Americans included several marches and rallies around the United States this past weekend that took the theme of "All Black Lives Matter," and specifically acknowledged and condemned the murders of trans people of color. Those rallies included a massive event in Boston, Massachusetts; a huge turnout in the Brooklyn borough of New York City; and a march in Hollywood, in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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