Last month we published an article entitled “AGAINST ALL ODDS – The dilemma of transgender employment in the U.S.” In the body of that article, we cited several statistics defining the difficulties we face when job searching. We constantly strive to help our community access larger networking platforms on social networking and in many other ways to promote resources to this end.
Needless to say, it can be extremely discouraging facing the fear of rejection every time we prepare for the interview. We simply must encourage these disheartened souls to never give up trying. Employment could be just around the next corner if they will just be persistent. Some will try. There are others, regardless of how much we encourage and support them, have decided that it is pointless. They have given up hope. I have seen it.
Concurrent with the first article, we released “LOCKED OUT: “ Housing/Apartment for Rent” – Transgender Need Not Apply”. This article presents the numbers concerning the difficulties in obtaining safe housing. The numbers are extremely disturbing, but some of the underlying causes even more so. Employment leads to housing. Having neither employment nor housing paints a grim picture.
What avenues are left when one cannot find work or a place to live? Trans women are four times more likely to spend time in jail or prison than their cis counterparts, in general. Their options have become limited to an extent that they must live on the street. They turn to crime. Think, again of the options. They will get shelter and food at least, even in prison. Alternatively, with all other employment possibilities exhausted, they fall back on the oldest profession, sex for sale. This places them in the wrong place at the wrong time, more of the time, in comparison as a means of survival.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance is the November 20th each year. It is the day we set aside to mourn and remember the trans murders from the previous year. One trans woman, known as “Chocolate”, while trying to survive through prostitution, was shot down on the streets of Detroit.
Fox2 Detroit recalls the incident:
“Police say a 36-year-old transgender woman was walking in the 17800 block of Woodward near Worcester around 1:50 a.m. Friday when three men pulled up in a red GMC Yukon. It is alleged that armed with a semi-automatic rifle, Brown and Williams got out of the car and told the woman to drop everything. Despite following directions and running away, police say Brown fired five shots at her, striking her three times, as Williams took her purse.” ¹
There is little argument that the perpetrators were ignorant of the fact that she was transgender, according to the Detroit Free Press:
“If someone wants to do something to a trans woman, it’s unfortunate but they know they can go on any given day to Six Mile and Woodward and find any of them,” said Julisa Abad, the transgender director of outreach and advocacy at the Fair Michigan Justice Project, who noted that all of the trans or gender non-conforming individuals that were killed between 2011 and 2016 were involved in what she called survival sex work.
“Nobody says, ‘I want to wake up and be a prostitute, I want to wake up and do survival sex work.’ It’s just disheartening.”²
And deadly. Fortunately, this time, another name was not added to the Transgender Day of Remembrance, at least not at “Chocolate’s” expense. According to Samantha Rogers at TG Detroit, a trans support organization in Detroit, Michigan on 12/02/2017, “Chocolate is no longer in critical condition and has been moved to an undisclosed care facility for further treatment and therapy. She was shot multiple times and will need extensive therapy to regain full mobility but we pray, in time, for a full recovery.”
There are times nearing the end of the year when we look back and think of all people that we have lost. Things we could have done differently given the chance. Different decisions, different choices. Some people, like Chocolate have few choices available, but nonetheless… deserve to survive.
Sometimes…it’s all we have.
A Gofundme has been established to help with Chocolate’s medical expenses. If you would like to help you can find it here