More senseless violence against the transgender community results in the murder of a beloved activist.
Image Julie Berman (Pride Toronto / Facebook)
A few months ago, when writing about violence against the transgender community, I had noted that, by October 2019, there had been 18 transgender people murdered within the United States, and these were only the known cases. The American Medical Association had labeled the murders an epidemic at that point. Sadly, that number had increased to 25 by the end of the year, and there still could be more cases identified. As it stands, the number of murders jumped by almost forty percent, just in the last three months of 2019.
The violence epidemic, as the AMA has termed it, reaches beyond the United States and spans the world. There were at least an estimated 331 trans and gender diverse people murdered in 2019 by various means including hangings and by lynching. In 2009, the Trans Murder Monitoring Project was created to collect and analyze reports of homicides committed against transgender people worldwide, and they estimate that the number of transgender murders is actually much higher than 331, as the data and resources to adequately identify these gruesome crimes is currently insufficient.
On November 20, 2019, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance was held, where each of the known victim’s names was read aloud. There was one additional victim, sadly, after that day, who was murdered just before the end of 2019. Her name is Julie Berman. She was 51, living in Toronto Canada, and looking forward to a hopeful new year in 2020. She was found beaten and died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.
Julie has been described as a bright, always cheerful woman, an outspoken advocate for transgender rights and improved acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Having, herself, previously experienced physical attacks, she had also been a tireless voice, working for increased education, to reduce and eliminate the violence that so adversely impacts her community. To her friends and the community at large, she will always be remembered as a beautiful person, and they will ensure her work against such violence continues.
We recently celebrated Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, who spoke the words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I think we can expand on that to include gender or just about any other physical attribute. I will never understand how any person can have such a capacity for hatred as to deem someone else less human because of some physical or other attribute they deem unacceptable.
I am really not sure if we are closer, as a species, to Dr. King’s dream, but I remain hopeful that one day, we will make it there. On that day, no one will live in fear, or be treated differently, simply because of the color of their skin, nor hopefully, their gender identity.