Elusiveness to Right of Protection for Trans-People of Color

The black transgender community suffers disparate intimate partner violence rates, discriminatory harassment, and sexual violence from both strangers and acquaintances.

Members of the trans community report disparate discriminatory treatment rates and physical violence from law enforcement personnel while interrogating crimes.

The stereotyped behavior that Black transgender people are deceitful to make them experience under-policing.

Transgender individuals walking in public are repeatedly targeted for suspected prostitution. They also encounter over-policing for walking while trans.

Many members of the transgender community report resorting to self-defense within this reality of violence and under protection. They asked for carrying firearms in public to protect themselves. High profile cases of Black transgender self-defense prove elusive for this community.

Biases about the inherent criminality of Black individuals infect every step of the criminal justice process. Moreover, many of the trans-phobic attitudes affect the criminal investigative process, similarly impact the viability of self-defense claims for transgender individuals utilizing self-defensive measures.

Trans person of color who has been assaulted and responded to their assault with physical, sometimes lethal force faces significant barriers while presenting their case because of prevailing ideas of a victim’s looks.

A transgender man from Georgia named Ky Peterson was hastily and unexpectedly hit in the head by a stranger. After coming into consciousness, Peterson saw that man straddled over him. Peterson reported that he was screaming in panic and physical pain while being interviewed, but nobody came to rescue him. And he already knew that the police would not help him out because this was not the first time he had been raped and found no help from the cops. Due to this distrust in the police, Peterson started carrying a weapon along with him. Fortunately, his brothers came, and he was able to escape from the rapist’s hold. But this isn’t it.

The rapist charges the gun at him; suddenly, Peterson grabbed his gun and pulled the trigger. He left the rapist’s body on the roadside and reported it to the cops, but they did not believe him. Instead of getting any assistance, contrarily, he got charged with the cases of committing malicious murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. As a consequence, Peterson is currently serving a twenty-year sentence.

Many trans people like Peterson fail to report violent crimes committed against them because of the perception that transgender people of color are dishonest and predatory.

Peterson’s case highlights the main difficulties that laws promoting ‘do it yourself‘ security from rape and assault.

These biases keep trans victims of color from successfully asserting immunities like Stand-your-Ground when they are focused on taking their safety and protection into their own hands.

A legal system that purports to support self-defense with the passage of laws like Stand-Your-Ground virtually robs trans people of that right because of the untidy delineation of their gender identity.

The Transgender community is fighting for visibility in the legal system as victims of gender violence and inmate partners.

Laws that allow people to seek protection will place members of these vulnerable populations in challenging positions when they exercise their right to defend themselves against their abusers.

Though some legislations purport to safeguard victims from violence, it does not protect trans people of color because criminal justice is biased against them.


Ijoma, S. (2018). False Promises of Protection: Black Women, Trans People & the Struggle for Visibility as Victims of Intimate Partner and Gendered Violence. University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender, and Class, 18(1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/rrgc/vol18/iss1/24

Featured image from Scott Olson/Getty Images

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