This editorial was first published in The Dallas Morning News. Guest editorials don’t necessarily reflect the Denton Record-Chronicle’s opinions.
The headlines have been disturbing: Two black Dallas women, killed within a mile of each other in less than two weeks. One of them had been brutally attacked by a mob a month before. Last month, another was stabbed several times and left for dead.
That these were transgender women in some ways is not what matters most. They were vulnerable citizens of our community, and their deaths should outrage us all. They, like all of us, deserved to be safe.
The slayings over the past month in Dallas have struck terror in a segment of our community already worried about increasing violence. Dallas police say their killings now make four open homicide cases — one in 2018 and another in 2015 — in which black transgender women were the victims.
We still don’t know if these cases are connected, and there’s no evidence of a motive or whether these women were targeted. What we do know is that their deaths have shaken the sense of security of a community that feels singled out for who they are.
All residents in this city have a right to live their lives as they please without risk of violence. These are appalling crimes against humanity. We’re encouraged that Chief U. Renee Hall has asked the FBI to help to aggressively investigate and solve them.
They’ve become a wake-up call that transgender people — particularly those of color — need better protection.
The details of these cases are frightening:
Chynal Lindsey’s body was pulled out of White Rock Lake on June 1. Police said the 26-year-old Arlington woman’s body showed “obvious signs of homicidal violence.”
Just two weeks earlier and less than a mile away, 22-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was found fatally shot on a road bordering the Tenison Park Golf Course. Booker had made headlines a month earlier when she was brutally beaten in a videotaped attack by a mob that left her with a concussion and a broken wrist.
Sadly, the reports of violence are not new. Local transgender people have told frightening stories of domestic violence, a lack of access to and discrimination in jobs and living in a constant fear of violence.
What’s happening here is part of a national problem, according to advocates and experts. The Human Rights Campaign tracked 128 killings of transgender people from 2013 to November 2018, and 82 percent of the victims have been transgender women of color.
It’s alarming that of the eight transgender people who have been killed this year, all of them were black transgender women.
Samantha Smoot with the advocacy group Equality Texas calls the violence an “epidemic” fueled by cultural biases and political rhetoric.
But she also sees the recent violence as a clarion call for the entire community to offer support and take a stand that we won’t tolerate the mistreatment of the most vulnerable among us.
Our rallying cry should be that if you attack one Texan, you attack all Texans.