President, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
June 2021 is our second Pride month during the COVID-19 pandemic — but that doesn’t mean we cannot find ways to come together as a community or that our community does not need us. We are needed more now than ever before.
Many of us took to the streets last summer and fall in support of Black lives and to demand a transformation to policing and an end to white supremacy. This year, we have continued to see hateful violence targeting people of color, especially Black and Asian communities, and LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary individuals.
We must remain united against hate and continue to rise up and be proud of who we are. Already this year, we have seen progress for LGBTQ+ equality, from the senate confirmations of LGBTQ+ trailblazers to the reversal of the ban on trans people in the military. However, we have also fought back against attacks in the states, with renewed assaults on the bedrock right of our democracy — our right to vote — and a record number of bills targeting transgender people.
Fueled by hateful attacks and stigma, the epidemic of violence against trans and non-conforming people is only accelerating. In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people — more than in any year since we began tracking this violence. And we continue to see a high level of violence in 2021.
Research also shows that those who live at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities are more critically impacted. Seventy-eight percent of victims have been transgender women of color, with Black transgender women representing 66 percent of all known victims.
Stopping the violence and the stigmatization will require action from all of us, individually and collectively. We must lift up the stories of trans joy, resilience, and empowerment that are all around us, and we must make space as trans allies for the intentional inclusion of trans and non-binary voices. Transgender people simply want to live their lives every day as who they are, like anyone else. We all must have the freedom to do so, because until all of us are free, none of us are free.
This Pride month, we know that the challenges that face our communities are grave, but we also know that it is not the challenges that define us. It is our joy, our hope, our strength, and our determination. And it is these qualities that sustain us on our shared journey towards liberation. Today and every day, we will fight for a world where all LGBTQ+ people are empowered to lives our lives as our full selves, free from discrimination.