For strange effects and extraordinary combinations we must go to life itself, which is always far more daring than any effort of the imagination.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The taking of any human life by violent means is a horrible thing. When trans women are murdered, it’s often with great violence – as they like to say in TV crime dramas – with “overkill.” This year has seen an increase in the number of trans women murdered in the United States and those in the trans community are right to point out that this increase goes against the current trend of a falling homicide rate in general (from a high of 10.2/100,000 in 1980 to the most recent high of 9.8/100,000 in 1991). It’s also important to note that trans women of color (19 murders in 2015) are at far higher risk than are white trans women (3 murders in 2015).
What sometimes gets lost in the headlines is that, as a percentage of the population, homicide against trans women is just slightly higher than that of the general population. According to the FBI the U.S. homicide rate in 2014 was 4.5 per 100,000 population. You are 10 times more likely to be murdered in Louisiana (>10/100,000) than in New Hampshire (<1/100,000). I calculated the homicide rate for trans women to be 4.69 for the year 2015 to date.
- 22 trans women have been murdered to date
- One estimate of the trans population (by the Williams Institute) is 700,000 and
- If 2/3 of the 700,000 are trans women (according to various estimates), then
- 1 in 21,318 have been killed
Variables include under-reporting or miscategorization of crimes against trans women for reasons such as misgendering by police and the disappearance of victims without a crime having been reported. No one knows the population of trans women as there are no census markers.
When I left for the U.S. earlier in the month there were perhaps a dozen mandarins on the neighbor’s tree that showed the palest orange tinge. When I returned this week there were three times that many that seem to be ripe. The produce markets are full of apples, valencias and mandarins.
I took a shared shuttle for the first time in many years – first to the airport in Leon, then again in Phoenix. The difference inside the vans was remarkable. Complete silence in the American vans and total expat chatter in the van to the Leon airport.
Topics ranged from recent murders in San Miguel to the celebration of the blessing of the horses at San Martin on the feast day of San Martin Caballero. San Martin is the patron saint of those who hope strangers will help them (it’s said that the Hungarian Martin cut his cloak in half and gave half to a beggar on the roadside). We passed hundreds of horses and their riders who were on trails that paralleled the road when not on the road itself. There were hundreds of bicyclists as well as pilgrims on foot.
It seemed the expats were exasperated by having to talk about the pilgrims and couldn’t wait until we were beyond them so they could talk about visa runs, health, illness, medical insurance, doctors, dentists, medicare and the other stuff of expat retiree life.
At one time shuttles were my way to and from airports, but over the years taxis, light rail, buses and friends and family replaced the shuttles so I was surprised to find Super Shuttle still existed. I made use of it in Phoenix going to and from the airport. Both of those rides were silent although passengers knew one another.