The Black Lives Matter Movement Becomes Truly Intersectional Making Way for Black Trans Lives Matter Protests

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Photo Credi Erik McGregor / GETTY IMAGES

Just as the end of the 1960s saw the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, and the Stonewall Riots, the social revolution taking place on the streets of America seems to understand that no one will be free until we are all free.

After George Floyd’s death triggered international demonstrations against structural racism, the assassinations of Riah Milton (25) and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells (27) have added another voice of protest to the civic chorus demanding the end of heteronormative white supremacy in the country.

According to USA Today, both black transgender women were found dead last week in what advocacy groups have called “an epidemic of violence” against the transgender community in the country.

According to local authorities, Milton died of a gunshot wound during a robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio, on June 9. According to the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the young woman worked as a home health aide and attended the University of Cincinnati. Two people have been arrested and charged with her murder.

Just 24 hours earlier, Fells was found dead in Philadelphia, the city’s police department confirmed to TIME. On Friday, her death was ruled a homicide and the investigation is still ongoing.

What in any other year would be a month of celebration of diversity has transformed this June into a feeling much closer to what women like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were claiming in front of the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood back in 1969.

On Sunday, thousands of people stood in front of the Brooklyn Museum in New York, mostly dressed in white and spreading the message “Black Trans Lives Matter,” coinciding with the Drag March for Change in Chicago and other demonstrations in Salt Lake City.

“While we’re talking about racism, while we’re talking about the changes that need to be [done] in this country, we need to talk about the hate towards trans people… particularly towards Black trans women,” Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans activist and advocate in Philadelphia, tells TIME.

As the magazine added, including Fells and Milton, at least 14 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed in 2020 alone. In 2019, at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people were violently killed, the majority of whom were Black transgender women. Over 130 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed between 2013 and 2018, according to HRC. The numbers may be even higher; the killing of transgender or gender non-conforming people often goes unreported or misreported, advocates say.

LGBTQ communities and allies across the country are joining in mourning of Fells and Milton, especially as transgender Americans continue to be the victims of disproportionate levels of violence, Marie Claire explained.

“We are in an absolute state of emergency for black transgender women,” Chase Glenn, executive director of South Carolina LGBTQ group the Alliance For Full Acceptance, said in a statement to NBC last year.