The killings of Black trans individuals, an epidemic that has continued to skyrocket in recent years, is trending upwards at a disturbing rate in 2021. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 20 of the 28  transgender or gender nonconforming people killed this year are Black or Brown people. 

Alphonso David, president of the HRC, said the number could possibly be even higher than the data shows because many of the attacks are unreported.

"Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color because they are at the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia," David told CNN. "And they, unfortunately, are receiving the brunt of the violence in this country."

At least 27 transgender and nonconforming people were killed in 2019, with the majority of them being Black individuals, according to the HRC. Many of the 44 transgender or gender-nonconforming people killed in the U.S. last year were also Black. 

The HRC president adds that an estimated two million people in the United States identify as transgender or nonbinary and face the difficulty of living freely as they are confronted with dehumanizing abuse and fear of being assaulted.

"This is very real for people, because if you are afraid of leaving your home at night, or walking home, or walking to the store, you're really not free," David said. "If you are transgender, if you're Black or Brown, because most of these deaths are Black or Brown transgender and gender nonconforming people, you are not able to exercise your freedom in this country."

Dozens of bills have been introduced in 33 states this year as part of an effort to deny the rights of transgender people, CNN reported. In Arkansas, for example, physicians are now prohibited from providing gender-affirming treatment for trans youth.

President Joe Biden addressed the epidemic on Saturday when he commemorated the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a brutal attack on the LGBTQ+ community which left 49 people dead and 53 people wounded.

“We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women — especially transgender women of color,” Biden said, according to mprnews. 

The president highlighted new policies that are being implemented to protect trans people which include the executive order Biden issued on the first day of his presidency. The executive order intends to expand discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people under federal laws such as the Affordable Housing Act, NBC News reported.

In addition, the president called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, a bill that would grant LGBTQ+ people protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, jury service and more.

“To more fully protect the civil rights of transgender Americans, we must pass the Equality Act and provide long overdue Federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Biden wrote. “It will serve as a lasting legacy to the bravery and fortitude of the LGBTQ+ movement.”

As Blavity previously reported, transgender activist and ballroom figure Jahaira DeAlto became one of the latest victims when she was stabbed to death in her Massachusetts home alongside her friend in May. 

“Jahaira was a legend for the trans community,” said Nolan Tesis, a friend of the 42-year-old activist. “She was a mother to so many that didn't have parents. I think that she took the most pride in her role as a grandmother and a mother, a chosen family for many individuals in the LGBTQ community.”