In the US, 10 trans people have been killed since the beginning of 2021 – SCREENSHOT Media

In the US, 10 trans people have been killed since the beginning of 2021

By Alma Fabiani

Published Mar 9, 2021 at 12:11 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Months after it was noted that the murder of two black trans women barely received any coverage in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has now been revealed that ten trans people have been killed in the US since the beginning of 2021.

Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white trans person, was found dead in Jacksonville, North Carolina on 24 February, making her (at least) the tenth trans homicide victim so far this year. While various media outlets had originally reported that Franks was the ninth known victim of anti-trans violence in 2021, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently clarified that 22-year-old Jasmine Cannady—who was murdered in February alongside their trans brother, 16-year-old Jeffrey “JJ” Bright—was nonbinary.

That makes the siblings, who were reportedly killed by their own mother, the eighth and ninth victims of fatal anti-trans violence this year, although a motive has yet to be established. Franks was described as a “beautiful soul” and “a breath of fresh air” by those who knew her. “Personally, my thought process was that this has to be something nefarious. Jenna had a lot of street smarts,” shared Dennis Biancuzzo, director of the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center, to WITN.

After news outlets and police faced criticism for allegedly deadnaming and misgendering Franks, her sister Amber Franks claimed in a Facebook post that her late sibling identified as genderfluid and often used different names and pronouns depending on the day.

According to them., Biancuzzo is currently working with the family to establish the Jenna Franks Interim Housing Project in the deceased’s honour. “The project aims to provide transitional housing for up to six adults for up to 18 months, during which they will be assisted in finding permanent housing and employment. The organization hopes to assist individuals with other services like mental health counseling, sexual assault advocacy, and treatment for substance abuse issues.”

As a response, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups from around the US have joined the local community in celebrating Franks’ life. Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality North Carolina, stated that Franks’ death “is another heartbreaking example of the injustices transgender people face all across the South every single day.”

LGBTQ+ people are included in statewide anti-discrimination laws in North Carolina, which fuel “a climate of violence… against the most vulnerable members of our communities,” added Johnson. 27 other states also lack comprehensive protections in statewide civil rights legislation.

Until recently, House Bill 142 prevented local governments from regulating both private employment practices and public accommodations, making expanding anti-discrimination laws in North Carolina impossible. According to them., “that legislation was drafted as an alleged ‘compromise’ on HB 2, the controversial state house bill that banned trans people from using the restroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity in areas like restaurants and bars.”

However, since HB 142 expired in December 2020, LGBTQ+ activists have been pushing to reestablish civil rights protections in North Carolina. In three months, cities like Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough have already reinstated pro-LGBTQ+ ordinances previously struck down by HB 124.

Of course, more work needs to be done around the country to ensure the safety and protection of vulnerable members of the community. While 2020 saw the largest number of trans homicides on record, the number of lives lost in 2021 is already three times higher than it was at the same point last year.

This should come as a sad yet urgent reminder that the fight against transphobia doesn’t stop at the Black Lives Matter movement, neither should it stop come the beginning of a new year.

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