On Sunday, May 3rd, the body of 28-year-old transgender woman Nina Pop was found in her apartment in Sikestown, Missouri. She had been stabbed multiple times, according to police.
While police have not determined a motive, they are looking into the possibility of a hate crime. The LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign reported that Pop’s murder is at least the 10th violent death of a transgender or gender nonconforming person this year, and the fifth in the past month. All five of the recent victims were transgender women of color.
Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, wrote in a blog post, “for the past four weeks, we have seen the deaths of five transgender women of color in this country. We are seeing an epidemic of violence that can no longer be ignored. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people, especially trans women of color, risk our lives by living as our true selves — and we are being violently killed for doing so”.
Transgender and gender nonconforming people lack expansive, explicit federal legal protections to safeguard against the vast discrimination they receive. While they are covered under the state’s hate crimes legislation, they are not explicitly protected in housing, employment, or public spaces.
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, wrote in her statement, “Transgender people — and particularly transgender women of color — are facing a wave of violence…Police and other government officials must do more to keep transgender people safe, to thoroughly investigate crimes against out community and to stop enacting laws that enable transgender people to be targeted.”
Sources: AP News 5/5/20; Human Rights Campaign 5/5/20; The Advocate 5/6/20