Every 28 hours, a Black person is murdered and every 32 hours, a transgender person is murdered.
When you do the math of intersectionality, that equals a devastating Black trans death toll that leaves many questions unanswered.
The deaths of Black women often go undocumented and the deaths of trans Black women are rarely, if ever, mentioned.
There’s been wide buzz around Caitlyn Jenner’s new series ‘I am Cait’ since it’s Sunday night premiere, while we applaud the bravery of Jenner, there are countless unsung Black women in the trans community who’s names and struggles deserve equal attention.
No matter your religious and social beliefs, these women are a part of our community and all Black lives matter.
Here are eight Black trans women, no longer here or still alive and kicking, who deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged!
1. India Clarke
India Clarke is the 9th and most recent transgender woman of color killed in a homicide this year. Clarke, 25, was found dead in Tampa, Florida on July 22nd as a result of blunt force trauma to the upper body.
Clarke is another woman who has been consistently misgendered by the media and police, as they referred to her as “a man in women’s clothing,” minimizing what may have been the driving factor in her murder; her identity as a trans woman.
2. Laverne Cox
She’s best known for her role as the snappy resident hairdresser, Sophia Burset, on the Netflix original series ‘Orange Is The New Black,’ but Laverne Cox is a tireless advocate for the transgender community.
Cox has made milestones as a Black person and even more as a Black trans woman. She’s the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure of herself at Madame Tussauds and the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
The powerhouse actress has been and continues to be a trailblazer in the transgender community, spreading awareness and increasing visibility of the conversations surrounding the intersectionality of transgender identity and racial identity.
3. Janet Mock
Janet Mock is often best known as the former staff editor at People magazine, but she also happens to be a staunch transgender rights activist and New York Times best selling author.
Mock is also the creator of the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag, which stirred a social movement empowering trans women and helping to celebrate the diversity of womanhood.
Mock currently hosts the ‘So POPular!’ series on MSNBC’s shift network and can be found shutting down Jeb Bush and the Grand Ole’ Party’s misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter movement.
4. Cece McDonald
CeCe McDonald garnered national attention in June of 2012 when she plead guilty and took a 41-month plea bargain for stabbing and killing a man who attacked her in a bar.
McDonald’s case was a prime marker of how transphobia affects the justice system, since McDonald explained she only took the bargain in an effort to avoid a 20-year sentence for what should have been ruled a case of self defense.
Despite her identity as a woman, McDonald was housed in men’s prisons. After 19 months and countless petitions, McDonald was released and her story was profiled in the Rolling Stone.
5. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy
Miss Major is a long-standing leader in the fight for civil rights for trans women of color. At 75 years old, she serves as the Executive Director for Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project.
Major was involved in a number of high profile historic moments of activism including the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the Attica Prison riots of 1971. There is a documentary in the works about her life story aptly called Major!
6. Lucy Hicks Anderson
Lucy Hicks Anderson was one of the pioneering women in the fight for marriage equality. For sixty years, she lived as a woman and even married twice in the pre-civil rights era.
It was during her second marriage in 1944, authorities learned she was legally male and charged her with perjury for marrying another man. Anderson served 10 years probation.
Anderson is best known and celebrated for declaring: “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.”
7. Tona Brown
Tona Brown is a world renowned violinist who made history as the first trans person of color to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Her concert, “From Stonewall to Carnegie Hall” increased awareness on the role of transgender men and women in the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
8. Angelica Ross
The founder of TransTech Social Enterprises and songwriter, Angelica Ross, made it her life’s mission to teach trans people how to use technology and innovate tools to protect their lives.
Ross dedicated her time to create and launch training academies and apprenticeship programs for trans people without a formal education.