No Jihad

I love Gwen Smith.  She speaks for so many trannies who cannot speak for themselves with her Remembering Our Dead project and the affilated Transgender Day Of Rememberance.

It’s astoundingly difficult to get any good numbers about transpeople.  We don’t show up on the radar.  Through the years, though, Gwen’s collection of information has given us a number, the number that about 12 transpeople are murdered each year in the US.  Because she now collects worldwide, her yearly total is higher, but it’s easy to separate US numbers, and reporting is better in the US.

Michelle Dennis put out a press release in November where she claimed that

The murder rate of transgender persons is 17 times the national average; the highest rate of any minority group.

That qute was picked up as a lead by the Whittier Daily News, and then picked up by a number of blogs.

The US Department of Justice does offer statistics on homicide rates.  The average rate in the US is 6 murders per 100,000 per year.  The rate of 102 per 100,000 per year, 17 times the average, is about the rate for young (18-24) black men, who sadly earned this rate by often killing each other, which is not a problem trannys have.

Are transpople really killed at a rate 17 times the average, the highest of any minority group?  Gwen’s figures can help there.  Even assuming that there is a 400% under representation and there are 48 murders at a rate of 102 per 100,000 per year, there are would only be a total population of around 2,800 transpeople our of 280,000,000 people in the country, a number which I believe to be quite low.  At that rate, there would only be 10 transpeople in every million, which means, for example, a population of about 100 transpeople in all of Los Angles County, with about 10 million people.

Vicky Ortega of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center suggests there are really about 10,000 transpeople in LA County.

If you do the math, assuming trannys are murdered at an average rate, that ends up working out to a national tranny population of 0.5%, one half of one percent, or one in 200.  That comes out to about five thousand in a million, or one and a half million transpeople in three hundred million in the United States.

Because we will tend to move to metropolitian areas this jibes well with the estimate of ten thousand in the one million people in LA County, much better than the estimate of 100 transpeople which extends from a 17x normal murder rate of 102 per 100,000 and, using the four times underreporting estimate,  48 reported murders in the US.

If we aren’t being murdered at extreme rates, why do these statistics staying that we are have such life?  Why do we pass them along so easily?

I suggest that we do that because those numbers feel right.  We feel murdered.

And we are murdered, but not in body, in soul.

I wrote about this experience for the Transgender Day Of Rememberance in 2000.

how old
callan williams copyright © 2000
(for transgender national day of remembrance)

how old were you
when you found out
you had to die?

was it
the moment they caught you
dressed in your sister’s clothes

or the moment they bought you
your first bra

or the moment your mother saw a transsexual on tv
and said “thank heavens I don’t have to deal with that?”

how old were you
when you found out
what was in your heart
had to die
they would deny you love
they would deny you humanity?

how old were you
when you found out
you had to die?

how old were you
when you found out
the truth of your life
should never be revealed
on penalty of death?

relationships die
respects die
concerns die
bodies die
dreams die.

how old were you
when you found out
you had to die?

how old were you
when you found out
if your heart didn’t die
someone could kill your body
and that would be all right?

it’s easy to understand
why people attack what they fear

it’s hard to understand
why the love in people’s hearts
is queer.

how old were you
when you found out
you had to die?

how old were you
when you first saw
a transperson murdered?

in the news,
a broken body
reduced to a freak-in-a-dress.

in a talk show
a broken spirit
lampooned as hideous liar.

in a sermon
a broken heart
cast out of the only home they knew.

in a joke
a broken person
made less than human.

in a comment
a broken life
dismissed with a sneer.

who was that person?

was it you?

did you just fear that it could be you?

or did you think
“they put themselves in danger”
“they were just asking for it”
“it’s their own fault, you know”
“they got what they deserved”

how old were you
when you found out
you had to die
for other people’s comfort?

how old were you?


4 thoughts on “No Jihad”

  1. Hi there.

    I was reading TRANSDADA today and was curious about your comment in the box.

    Are you trying to say that kari edwards is making up information? Here where I am in Philadelphia it’s pretty clear that transpeople are most at risk. All the time, every single day.

    Now I’m not sitting here with a stack of information to back me up, but I can pretty much bet kari edwards knows what s/he’s talking about. Transpeople in Philadelphia have THE MOST active suicide line all to themselves, operated by volunteers.

    And I also believe it’s possible to have both, a high rate of visibility and numbers, and deaths, suicides, murders, etc., as you were saying that it seems to be a contradiction for some reason.

    Just wanted to throw my two cents in.

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG by the way! If ever you’re in Philadelphia, PLEASE look me up! I would LOVE to introduce you to one of THE most amazing transpeople in the world. LesSr is an institution in my town, who BROKE the racial barrier back in the 60s, LesSr is our dame, queen, our absolute and compassionate Mother.

    Are you a TRANS-BOXER? Or maybe you are and just don’t realize it yet?

  2. A 2016 note: The current rate suggests that about 24 transpeople will be reported as murdered this year. I suspect, though I don’t have proof, that change is more about increased reporting of trans murders that comes from increased visibility, rather than being about a doubling of the rate of murder.

    The numbers in this post already assume that only one of four trans murders are reported, so around 48. The only change needed is assuming that only one out of two are now reported, a 200% under reporting, so the total number is roughly the same.

  3. The estimate of the trans population I used here in 2006 was one half of one percent, or 0.5%.

    The latest estimate from the Williams Institute in 2016 is 0.6% or six tenths of one percent.

    This is currently around 1.6 million, slightly larger than the 1.5 million I use here.

    The reported murders this year are running high, but if we postulate 28 reported murders, approximately 1.75 in 100,000 population.

    This is below the average homicide rate in all of Asia – — which is the lowest region in the world. and among the lowest homicide rates per state in the US –

    Again, there may be under reporting in transgender murders, but even assuming double the rate, 3.5 per 100,000 is below the rate of many states which are not seen as having an epidemic of murders.

    Transpeople feel their souls murdered and trans murders offer a good tool for organizers to bring transpeople together, but either we are a much smaller population than the best statistics offer or we are not being murdered at a very high rate.

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