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Advocates hope awareness sparks change after deadly year for transgender community

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — This year has been one of the deadliest for transgender and non-binary people, according to the Human Rights Campaign. While this week is Transgender Awareness Week, advocates are asking for action.

Data from the Human Rights Campaign shows 36 people have been killed in the U.S. this year. One of those victims was killed right here in Indianapolis. Someone shot and killed Sara Blackwood last month. Police are still investigating. Transgender advocates said her case shows the dangers trans people face daily.

Transgender rights are human rights. That is the message people like Julie Walsh, who is the founder of the transgender advocacy organization GenderNexus, is sending.

“There definitely is a greater disparity among trans women of color, who are experiencing anti-transgender violence and hate crimes and discrimination,” said Walsh.

Sara Blackwood of Indiana is one of the 36 trans people who’s life ended in violence. The Human Rights Campaign said that only accounts for the number of reported cases.

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“We don’t know what 2021 will look like. But we are prepared to continue to fight in the legislature to make sure transgender people are represented,” said Kit Malone with ACLU of Indiana.

This week is Transgender Awareness Week. However, housing and job discrimination continues. Trans people are barred from the military and participating in sports connected to their gender identity. Malone said awareness has grown, but progress is moving slowly.

“We went from a time in 2015 when we were talking about making progress and expanding our civil rights. To 2020 when we were facing over 70 executive actions limiting the rights of trans people and even singling them out for discrimination.”

Although more political leaders are talking about transgender rights, Walsh said it can’t stop there.

“What we can really do as a community overall, just to learn more about who we are as individuals and as a community. We need to be attuned and responsive to children and youth who say they are transgender and non-binary.”

Friday is the Day of Remembrance for transgender victims killed this year. But to follow up that, GenderNexus will hold a Transgender Day of Resilience on Saturday.

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