Detroit lawmakers and transgender victim advocates gathered this week to confront violence against transgender women of color. The group hosted an LGBTQ Legislation Community Work Group to give voice and spotlight to the issue.
The Human Rights Campaign documented 26 deaths of transgender people nationally in 2018. The group says at least ten transgender people have been killed in 2019. All were black, including Paris Cameron of Detroit who was murdered in May.
Julisa Abad is a trans woman of color with FAIR Michigan. Through her advocacy with Fair Michigan, the group has provided police departments with cultural competency notes and created a transgender inclusion policy that will allow victims who are transgender to report a crime.
Abad says a lot of transgender people often don’t have documentation “that reflects their authentic self.”
“If a crime happens we will address them by their preferred name, preferred pronoun, in case they do have to go to court. That’s one less traumatizing thing that they have to go through,” Abad says.
Abad says more work needs to be done to expand the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights act to include the LGBTQ community. She says that despite gay marriage now being allowed, LGBTQ individuals who choose to get married can still face discrimination.
“Once those people were able to get married and come back to work, you potentially outed yourself while trying to add your partner to your health insurance,” Abad says.
She says because Michigan allows discrimination based on sexual orientation, those couples could lose their jobs.