State-sanctioned Violence Against Queer and Trans People

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On Transgender Day of Remembrance, the queer and trans communities were already in mourning. Many of us celebrated the day by repeating the names of those taken from relatives, friends and (selected) families. We also woke up to mourn another atrocity – five dead and 18 injured after a gunman opened fire at an LGBTQIA+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Club Q, a 20-year-old nightclub described by its owner and patrons as both a haven of joy and safety for LGBTQIA+ locals in the largely conservative Colorado Springs area, is now the site of yet another mass murder in the United States. compounds the already devastating harms against queer and trans people across the country. While the identities of the victims have not yet been confirmed, reports already say that before authorities arrived, Club Q patrons subdued the gunman, who has since been arrested and charged with five counts of aggravated assault.

The political climate that has fueled this latest attack on LGBTQIA+ people is yet another reminder that the political rhetoric that demonizes our communities has real and deadly consequences. Transphobic and homophobic violence is a fire fueled by the white supremacist, Christian-fascist right. Conservative forces incite violence against queer and trans communities through hate speech; they threaten to de-exist us and remove us from schools, libraries, and all public spaces because our mere presence and visibility is always a direct threat to the fragile white nationalist cis hetero patriarchy. Elected officials and their many pawns use fear and hatred to maintain power here and abroad.

By June 2022, more than 160 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills had been introduced in US state legislatures, but it doesn’t stop there. Politicians like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have also incited and fueled violence against LGBTQIA+ people, with a particular focus on queer and trans children and their families. This is the kind of state-sanctioned violence that emboldens civilians to walk into our safe spaces with rifles and kill our relatives. The same hatred invites far-right movements and groups to attack drag queen story time in bookstores and libraries and threaten hospitals that provide gender-affirming care. The violence is relentless, and our grief compounds before we have time to heal from our other losses.

So how do we combat the current systems that enable these murders? Ending state-sanctioned violence and the criminalization of queer and trans people requires the safety and protection of our most vulnerable through the dismantling of police and prisons. Protecting and ensuring bodily autonomy, safety, and access to reproductive care and justice requires more than lukewarm promises around election seasons. The freedom to live and thrive requires dismantling the white supremacist cis-hetero patriarchy and its insidious and oppressive structures, and they require action. As we mourn, we must also support those who have lost loved ones.

Funds are available to provide support; here are a few that have been confirmed:

Because our existence is endlessly politicized, targeted by state forces, and legislated against, the murders of our relatives are inherently political. Those who no longer want us to exist rely on our suffering to tame us, but justice demands that our sorrow, grief, and righteous anger fuel us to organize, communicate, and fight for the living.

Prism is an independent and nonprofit newsroom led by journalists of color. We report on the intersection of head-on and injustice.