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Violence against trans women: a fight for equality and respect

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Violence against trans women is a worrying and urgent reality that must be effectively addressed.

Marsha P. Johnson holding a cup and smiling widely

In the history of the fight for the rights of the LGTBIQ+ community, the figure of Marsha P. Johnson stands as a symbol of resistance and courage. Johnson, an African-American trans woman, was a leading activist during the Stonewall riots in 1969, which marked a milestone in the fight for the rights of LGTBIQ+ people. Her legacy is a reminder of the importance of recognizing and defending the rights of trans women in our society.

Marsha was found lifeless on the banks of the Hudson River in New York in 1992, but the details of her death were never fully disclosed. Police sources claimed that it was a suicide, but there are those who claim that she was murdered because of her identity and her active struggle for the rights of the collective.

Unfortunately, trans women continue to face a disproportionate amount of violence and discrimination because of their gender identity. These women are exposed to a variety of physical, verbal and emotional assaults, simply for being who they are and choosing to live their true identity freely. Spain is no stranger to this problem, and several notorious cases have shaken the public conscience, revealing the urgent need to address this violence, such as the case of Sonia Rescalvo or the case of Margarida Borràs.

The case of Sonia Rescalvo is one of the most tragic and remembered cases in Spain. In 1991, in the roundabout of the Ciutadella park in Barcelona, Sonia was brutally murdered by a group of neo-Nazis while she was sleeping because of her gender identity. Her death shocked the community and highlighted the dangers trans women face in their daily lives. This case was a call to attention on the need to protect and guarantee the safety of trans people.

Another painful example that shocked the Valencian Community and Spain is that of Margarida Borràs, a trans woman who was the victim of a violent attack in 2016 and died as a result of her injuries. Her tragic fate highlights the persistence of violence directed towards trans women and the need to urgently address it. There are those who would think that things would have changed after 25 years, but Margarida lived the same fate as Sonia. Therefore, it is crucial that as a society we fight for the freedom of trans women and their right to exist in their own bodies as they wish to do so.

The violence that trans women face today is a sad reminder of the persistent challenges they still need to overcome to achieve a truly inclusive and respectful society. As reported by the Trans Murder Observatory, 95% of people murdered worldwide were trans women or trans female people, half of whom were sex workers.

How can we help?

It is essential that as a society we unite to end this violence and promote equality and respect for trans women. We can do it in the following way:

  • Education and awareness: Promote education on gender identity, human rights and sexual diversity to foster understanding and mutual respect.

  • Inclusive legislation: Support laws and policies that protect the rights of trans people, including measures against discrimination and violence based on gender identity.

  • Access to support services: Guarantee that trans women have access to health services, psychological counselling, shelter and social support to help them overcome situations of violence and discrimination.

  • Alliances and solidarity: Foster alliances between civil society organizations, activists and communities to create support networks and promote the visibility and recognition of trans women.

It is crucial to recognize that the fight for gender equality cannot be selective or exclusive. We must work together to overcome entrenched prejudices and stereotypes, and build an environment in which all people, regardless of gender identity, are fully valued and respected.

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