Hear from trans women of color who are working to help others in Metro Detroit

2021 on pace to be deadliest year on record for trans women

Trans women of color share experiences

DETROIT – This year is on pace to be the deadliest year on record nationally for trans women. Most of the murders are of Black and brown women.

Liliana Reyes and Jeynce Poindexter work to help other women in Metro Detroit through the Ruth Ellis Center and at the Trans Sistas of Color Project.

“Any given time I can get a phone call that there is a youth, or there is a young trans woman who has been kicked out, who has been sexually assaulted or violated or victimized in some type of way,” Poindexter said.

The Human Rights Campaign has been tracking fatal violence against all transgender and gender non-confirming people in the United States since 2013. This year they’ve tracked at least 32 deaths of all trans and gender non-conforming people.

“It feels like pretty much every week, every weekend, we’re having conversations about new folks who have had episodes of violence or folks who have gone missing,” said Lindsey Clark with the Human Rights Campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign, Reyes and Poindexter said that it’s likely the statistics don’t show everything.

“We know that these cases are often underreported or misreported. Folks are deadnamed, or their genders aren’t referenced appropriately,” Clark said.

The Washington Post recently reported that nearly half of trans women killed between 2015 and 2020 were at the hands of an intimate partner.

“The people who kill us are the people who love us. They are the people who get in relationships with us,” Reyes said. “They come in our homes, they hold us. And then when someone finds out they’re loving a trans woman, they kill us.”

This weekend, Reyes and Poindexter are holding ballroom parties to celebrate themselves and the family members who they’ll continue to fight for.

“People can go their lives and lose a couple of friends. We lose a friend almost every month. And if there’s anything I can do with my work is that not one more has to die,” Reyes said.

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.