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Another transgender woman’s murder sparks renewed outrage in El Salvador

Zashy Zuley del Cid was shot in San Miguel on April 24

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Zashy Zuley del Cid (Photo via Facebook)

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Blade published a Spanish version of this story on April 30.

SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador — A gunshot to the back on April 24 cost Zashy Zuley del Cid her life.

The murder took place while she was working in an area in the city of San Miguel in which sex workers gather, according to the information that COMCAVIS Trans shared with the Blade. This fact outraged the organization, which is based in the Salvadoran capital, and Colectivo Perlas de Oriente leaders with whom del Cid was working.

COMCAVIS Trans, for its part, issued a statement in which it stressed LGBTQ people in El Salvador should enjoy the right to life, integrity and personal security.

“We suffer attacks for the simple fact of having a different sexual orientation or gender identity, which each person expresses with different patterns and gender roles,” COMCAVIS Trans Executive Director Bianca Rodríguez told the Blade.

“Zashy is one more victim of that prejudice and hatred of which we are victims,” said Rodríguez, recalling del Cid’s work as a grassroots activist in San Miguel that she had been doing since 2017. “We do not want violence to continue against LGBT people, and it is for that reason we have made the corresponding call to the appropriate authorities to be diligent with investigations and (for us) to be recognized as citizens with equal rights and guarantees.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has also condemned del Cid’s murder.

UNHCR in an article it published explained that it, along with COMCAVIS Trans, in 2020 provided del Cid with assistance and housing after criminal elements forcibly displaced her from her home. Del Cid was enrolled in a training program for entrepreneurs and both organizations were giving her support from the framework of protection and protecting the livelihoods of internally displaced people in the country.

Del Cid would have been able to work in a beauty salon in order to support herself.

Community leaders in San Miguel were more united during del Cid’s wake that lasted two days, but Rodríguez told the Blade the fact her family buried her with a masculine gender expression upset them.

“That process was difficult because the family did not want any LGBT people to attend, but a relative eventually allowed Colectivo Perlas de Oriente to attend,” Rodríguez added.

“It is a reprehensible fact, especially because the police have not conducted a credible investigation of the case,” she added. “It is worrying because the prosecutors didn’t even know the victim’s name.”

COMCAVIS Trans figures indicate more than 600 LGBTQ people have been reported killed in El Salvador since 1993.

Statistics also indicate 151 LGBTQ people between 2018 and September 2019 said they were forcibly displaced from their homes. Trans women account for 67.5 percent of these cases, while gay men account for 17.2 percent.

Del Cid’s colleagues will remember her as a woman who was committed to bettering herself with a business through which she could help other trans women get a job, but they will not forget their fear that her case will be another one in El Salvador that will be forgotten forever. That is why LGBTQ organizations will continue to call upon the appropriate Salvadoran authorities to investigate and bring justice for LGBTQ victims of violence.

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Transgender

Transgender Awareness Week 2021 begins as community is under siege

This annual tradition leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance brings awareness to the continued struggle the Trans community faces

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Participants at the National Trans Visibility March in Orlando, Florida, October 2021— Photo by Dawn Ennis

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego LGBT Center kicked off Transgender Awareness Week 2021 on Saturday November 13, by raising the Transgender Pride Flag over Hillcrest, San Diego’s ‘gayborhood.’ Several community members, activists and representatives from the city and county’s elected officials were in attendance.

This has become an annual tradition leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which brings awareness to the continued struggle the transgender community faces and gives trans folks an opportunity to speak with their unique voices.

Last month hundreds of Out transgender people and allies from across Florida and from as far away as Southern California gathered in Orlando Saturday to rally and to march, demanding justice, equality and acceptance. 

Chanting, “Trans Solidarity,” and “Hey Hey, Ho, Ho, Transphobia Has Got To Go!” participants in the 3rd annual National Trans Visibility March stepped off for their first march to be held outside Washington, D.C. This was also the first in-person parade since last year’s march was held mostly virtually, on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There are so many of us who feel excluded from our cities and our communities,” said Ariel Savage of Riverside, Calif. 

Ebony Harper, the Executive Director of California TRANscends, a statewide initiative that promotes the health and wellness of transgender people throughout California with a focus on Black and Brown transgender communities spoke to the Blade Saturday afternoon addressing the needs of the Trans community;

While our community has some visibility in media, we still live under threats of violence and having our rights stripped from us. That’s our reality. This isn’t a narrative; these are facts!
This year alone, over 102 anti-trans bills have been introduced in 7 states. 47 to prevent trans kids from playing sports and the majority attacking how trans folks receive healthcare.

At least 45 transgender people were murdered this year, the majority Black and Latinx transgender women. I’m one of many Black trans women advocating for our community, but you as an ally can have a powerful impact; Spreading awareness, resisting “the status quo” for us, speaking-up, is harm prevention. That’s humanizing our experience. We are divinely human, just as you are divinely human. That’s what this week is about. It’s about our humanity.

I’ll be speaking at several Trans Day of Remembrance events here in Northern California and I will talk about how you, the ally, have contributed to what we have now, but we’re just getting started. Find you a Transgender Week of Awareness event this week and show our community that we are in this together,” Harper told the Blade.

With the news of the killing of Marquiisha Lawrence in Greenville, S.C. on November 4 the Human Rights Campaign has now officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people than any year prior.

At least 45 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed this year; HRC Foundation uses “at least” because too often these stories go unreported or misreported. Previously, the highest number of fatal deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people that HRC Foundation has tracked over a 12 month period was just last year in 2020, when at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed.

“We are at a tragic and deeply upsetting moment: With the death of Marquiisha Lawrence, 2021 has become the deadliest year ever for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Each of these 45 names represents a whole person and a rich life torn from us by senseless violence, driven by bigotry and transphobia and stoked by people who hate and fear transgender people and the richness of their experience,” Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said.

“Dehumanizing rhetoric has real-life consequences for the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color but especially Black transgender women. As we have seen an unprecedented number of bills introduced in state legislatures attacking transgender youth and trans adults, the moment we are in is clear. They have attacked transgender people’s right to health care, right to exist in public, and right to live openly, with the ultimate goal of dehumanizing and erasing their lives and experiences,” she added.

In Tampa, Florida, another Trans woman of colour was found murdered further raising the number of Trans women who were killed this year.

“Prominent Republicans are holding up the authoritarian Hungarian state as the model for the US to follow, in great part because Hungary has ended all government recognition of trans people, and criminalized LGBT media content. We are running out of time to prevent the effective end of the trans community in America.”

Brynn Tannehill, Trans author, Los angeles blade columnist and activist.

“In the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers, including a record number of anti-transgender bills and fatal violence, the trans community remains resilient and vibrant. The strength displayed by transgender and nonbinary youth in response to these attacks has been remarkable and should serve as a call to action for us all,” said Carrie Davis Chief Community Officer for The Trevor Project. “Every person has a role to play in creating a safer world for young trans people. The Trevor Project recently released a study that found transgender and nonbinary young people who feel accepted by the people in their lives are less likely to attempt suicide. This week, and every week, let us make clear that transgender and nonbinary youth deserve love, respect, and to live their lives without fear of discrimination and violence.”

Relevant Research

New Study: Acceptance of Transgender and Nonbinary Youth from Adults and Peers Associated with Significantly Lower Rates of Attempting Suicide

  • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from at least one adult had 33% lower odds of reporting a past-year suicide attempt.
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from at least one peer had 34% lower odds of reporting a past-year suicide attempt.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health:

  • More than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year— and 1 in 5 attempted suicide.
  • 78% of trans youth stated that their mental health was “poor” most of the time or always during COVID-19.
  • However, the data also illuminate protective factors:
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide less when respect is given to their pronouns, when they are allowed to officially change their legal documents, and when they have access to spaces that affirm their gender identity. 
      • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all of the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected by anyone with whom they lived.

Further, a peer-reviewed study found that transgender and nonbinary youth who report experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity had more than double the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience gender identity-based discrimination. 

Research Brief: Diversity of Nonbinary Youth

  • One in four LGBTQ youth (26%) in our sample of nearly 35,000 identified as nonbinary. An additional 20% reported that they are not sure or are questioning if they are nonbinary.
  • While nonbinary identities have often been grouped under the umbrella term of “transgender,” our data show that only 50% of youth who identified as nonbinary also identified as transgender.
  • The majority of nonbinary youth reported exclusively using pronouns outside of the gender binary, such as “they/them” (33%) or neopronouns (5%), such as “xe/xem.”
  • When asked about ways other people can make them feel happy or euphoric about their gender, nonbinary youth overwhelmingly responded: having people in their life use the correct name and pronouns to refer to them. Nonbinary youth who reported that “no one” respected their pronouns had more than 2.5x the rate of attempting suicide compared to those who reported that “all or most of the people” they know respected their pronouns.

Research Report: All Black Lives Matter: Mental Health of Black LGBTQ Youth

  • One in three Black LGBTQ youth identified as transgender or nonbinary
  • 44% of Black LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months, including 59% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 25% of Black transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their gender identity
  • Black transgender and nonbinary youth reported twice the rate of police victimization (6%) compared to cisgender Black LGBQ youth (3%). Black LGBTQ youth who were involved with police victimization due to their LGBTQ identity reported rates of suicide attempts (32%) that were nearly double that of youth who were not (17%).
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Transgender

West Virginia Sheriff posts transphobic meme gets transphobic comments

Mellinger posted the horrific meme on June 29, 2021. It wasn’t made private until July, 11, so in the meantime, it did a lot of damage.

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Shoulder Patch of the Jackson County, W.Va. Sheriff's Department via Facebook

By Kelli Busey | RIPLEY, W Va. – Jackson County West Virginia Sheriff Ross Mellinger posted a transphobic meme mocking the first transgender Miss USA contestant and as expected received hundreds of transphobic comments and likes.

Shortly after Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada USA Pageant, Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger posted his thoughts on his personal Facebook page. Enriquez is the first transgender woman advancing to the Miss USA Pageant.

Mellinger made fun of her body and called being transgender “a craze.”

Jackson News Papers originally broke the story reported that Sheriff Ross Mellinger declined to comment.

Most of those who defend Mellinger said that it is his right to post memes on his public Facebook page. Those same people then proceed to disparage transgender people, a minority protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ross Mellinger posted this horrific meme on June 29, 2021. It wasn’t made private until July, 11, so in the meantime, it did a lot of damage.

“So, I see the transgender craze has now invaded the Miss USA Competition…..”

His Facebook page now displays this notation on the post: “This Facebook post is no longer available. It may have been removed, or the privacy settings of the post may have changed.”

One Facebook user posted that in his defense, the Sheriff’s post wasn’t just about “hate”.

A leading Trans activist noted; “She was right, this isn’t just about hate. This is about firing a law enforcement official for refusing to acknowledge he was wrong for publicly inciting hatred against a minority.

Fun Facts:

Mellinger was elected to serve and protect all of the citizens, not just the ones he chooses to.

This is about an elected law enforcement official with a public Facebook page inviting people to mock a minority that their state just legislated against.

This about a white man who is afraid of a transgender Filipina-American woman of color.

This is about holding a law enforcement official to a higher standard.

This about holding him accountable if he refuses to do his duty.”

Planet Transgender took a screengrab of Sheriff Mellinger’s Facebook meme just in case he removed it or made it private without first issuing a public apology:

The meme Sheriff Ross Mellinger posted to Facebook. It remained there for 13 days. It has been either removed by Facebook or Mellinger has made his profile private to escape scrutiny.

Kelli Busey is the Managing Editor of Planet Transgender magazine.

The preceding article was originally published by Planet Transgender and is republished by permission.

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Transgender

Trans woman Lehlogonolo Machaba makes it to top 30 Miss SA

The first transgender woman to officially enter the South African Beauty Pageant, has made the first cut

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Lehlogonolo Machaba via Instagram

By Kelli Busey | MAHIKENG, NW, South Africa – Lehlogonolo Machaba, The first transgender woman to officially enter the South African Beauty Pageant, has made the first cut joining 29 gorgeous women as a top 30 semi-finalist.

Lehlogonolo Machaba, the only contestant from the North West, wrote in an Instagram post “I am proud to announce that I have OFFICIALLY made it to the #Top30 of #MissSA2021 thanks to all of you. This journey has been nothing but a great one and all of you have made this worthwhile. I will continue to push for change and acceptance of everyone in the LGBTQI+ community and being the first EVER TransWoman in the competition I can declare that by the grace of God TOP 15 here we come. Look out for all the information regarding voting on my next posts and Instagram stories. @official_misssa ”

Editor’s note: If you are from South Africa you can vote, for a fee, as a fifth judge by clicking here.

Kelli Busey is the managing editor at Planet Transgender

The preceding article was originally published by Planet Transgender and is republished by permission.

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