BOSTON - As the nation celebrates pride month, transgender women of color are dying in record numbers.
The homicide rate for transgender women is so high that non-profit Jane Doe Inc. is shifting its focus to address what many advocates say is a crisis.
"It goes back to the piece of, like, the lack of access that they have," Jane Doe Membership and Programs Director Diana Mancera said.
In 2017, 29 black transgender women were killed in the United States. That's the highest number on record. In 2018, 26 more were killed.
Jane Doe Inc. has shifted its primary focus from domestic violence prevention and education to issues impacting marginalized communities like LGBTQ people of color. It’s the focus of their annual conference.
"The cases of sexual assault and domestic violence are the folks that are the most impacted because of their historical trauma," Mancera said. "So we’re thinking about black folks. We’re thinking about LGBTQ folks -- particularly trans people of color.”
In Massachusetts, hate crime reports rose to 421 in 2017. In Boston, there were 140 incidents of hate crime reported just that year. A California State University report shows 42 of those involved anti-LGBTQ sentiments.
"I think it translates to us really needing to make a change," Center for Hope and Healing's Isa Wolderguiorguis said. "Really focusing our attention specifically on women of color and trans women of color. What type of services and support people need. They may not look like our traditional services.”
The state allotted $1 million toward a public awareness campaign called Respect-Fully that addresses issues around sexual assault and domestic violence. It's the first program of its kind in 20 years.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.