Minority transgender women lack community support and face stigma

By Teresa Flores

Kandis Capri’s murderer is still at large according to the last report from Phoenix Police, which was released around the time of her murder, and no official report since then. She is not the only Transgender woman in the state of Arizona, or even the United States to be killed this year.

According to Lexie Cannes, a transgender blogger, there have been murders in North Carolina, Arizona, and Detroit, Michigan. The Guardian and The New York Times also report the disparity between transgender murders and media coverage.

Even with the progression of the LGBTQ Community and the tolerance for gay marriage there is still a stigma that shadows transgender people like a felony would shadow over an ex-convict.

“The ruling takes an enlightened, compassionate position on equality for transgender youth and sets an example for the rest of the country about how all transgender people should be treated. And that case, as well as many others, has opened the eyes of countless people all across the country about how difficult it is to be transgender in America.” said James Esseks, a journalist for The Daily Beast. “Almost two-thirds of Houston voters pulled the lever to repeal a broad non-discrimination ordinance that would have protected 15 groups vulnerable to discrimination, including women, people of color, and LGBT people.”

However, there is an upside to all of this. In Phoenix, a young woman by the name of Beatrice Velasquez has decided to bring awareness to the issues LGBTQ Community faces, especially the issues for transgender women of color. Velasquez said “The biggest issues affecting the transgender community are access to resources, transphobia, and violence. Many transgender individuals lack access to the most basic health and wellness resources.”

“VEME: Queering PHX is a photographic and story project that focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ/queer young people of color living in Phoenix, Ariz. VEME: Queering Phoenix wants to break away from representations that paint this population as a statistic or population at risk and challenge the predominantly white and heteronormative image often associated with the LGBTQ community.” Kelsey K. Wong, supporter of VEME: Queering Phoenix, said.

So what have the Phoenix Police Department done to resolve the murder of Kandis Capri? Visiting the Phoenix Police Departments website provides no clues. Even viewing the Facebook page of Phoenix PD did not offer any information on Kandis Capri, not even around the time of her murder. The Facebook page does make note of other crimes, murders, and even police outreach in other areas. The Gaucho newsroom is still waiting for a response.

“There [is a] mountain of work that needs to be done [in order] to change the role the police hold within the LGBTQ community … especially [so the] LGBTQ people of color see them as someone who can help them in a time of need and not someone who can take an already bad situation and make it worse through lack of training and insensitivity.” said Velasquez. Even heterosexuals tend to agree. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that nationally hate crime has gone down for everyone but Muslims, in the light of the Paris attacks. The Washington Post reported that the House’s Equality Caucus “will hold a forum on violence against transgender people, in Congress’s first attempt to address the needs of a small community that has gained new visibility this year.”

Despite the fact that the LGBTQ Community has progressed since the 1950’s, even Congress has decided to respond to the death toll of transgender women of color that has steadily risen in 2015.

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