The Roots of Anti-Trans ViolenceNew York
The numbers contradict existing stereotypes wherein the South is discarded as hotbeds of conservatism. One could argue that the way New York has branded itself as progressive allows it to conceal the violence that is inflicted on marginalized communities like trans people.
With the exception of Mx. Bostick, 59, all of the known victims were between ages 27 and 35 at the time of their deaths.
New York’s reputation as a “liberal safe haven” often leads advocates and activists to ignore the prevalence of transphobic hate violence throughout the state. Even in the wake of numerous bills claiming to improve conditions for trans and non-binary New Yorkers, the community has been regularly targeted both by civilians and law enforcement.
In 2017, NYPD continued to arrest sex workers even after pledging to instead target traffickers. In 2018, among a surge in loitering arrests that largely impacted undocumented immigrants, police targeted and arrested a 23-year-old trans woman for allegedly engaging in sex work.
Until its eventual repeal in 2021, New York’s Walking While Trans Ban disproportionately targeted and detained trans women of color for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution.”
In 2018, amid an ongoing push for sanctuary city status, 20,000 New York immigrants were identified for deportation. In 2020, as New Yorkers battled increasing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, eligibility criteria for both stimulus checks and unemployment benefits excluded undocumented immigrants and many sex workers from collecting payments.
Violence by Law Enforcement: Layleen Cubilette-Polanco died from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) on June 7, 2019 while in solitary confinement at Rikers Island prison. Her epilepsy was well-documented, but the COs elected to place her in isolation regardless.
Nationally, twelve trans or non-binary people were reported murdered by law enforcement between 2017-2020.
Policing: Although New York City has committed to decreasing their police budget for the 2021 fiscal year, the new figure of approximately $10.2 billion still represents the second highest police budget per capita in the U.S. This figure also represents a marked increase when compared to the city’s police budget just five years prior.
During a summer of sustained Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, NYPD repeatedly demonstrated their hostility toward Black and TGNB people. Over the course of a few months, protestors filed over 700 complaints of brutal police violence; a mere two officers faced serious repercussions as a result of their behavior, demonstrating the department’s continued lack of accountability to their own egregious violence.