CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - In the middle of the reckoning for racial justice, advocates for transgender people are making room for themselves in the Black Lives Matter movement. The FBI reported a disturbing increase anti-trans violence and activists say that’s why Black Lives Matter can’t matter unless Black Trans Lives Matter.
Ariel Mary Ann is a unique voice in Black Trans lives Matter Movement.
She is a transgender black woman, and the sister of Riah Milton- the transgender victim who was shot and killed in liberty township..
“I am, I’m having to, to not only fight for my existence as a black woman, but I for my existence as a black trans women,” said Ariel.
While Black Lives Matter is pushing for equality …LGBTQ advocates are demanding not to be forgotten. " Black trans people and black queer people often times get pushed to the margins. We are just as black as George Floyd, we are just as black as Breanna Taylor, we are just as black as Trayvon Martin and our lives matter just as much as their lives matters."
The Human Rights campaign reports at least 33 transgendered people have been violently murdered so far in 2020. Eliana Turan with The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland says unfortunately Cleveland is an epicenter of the transgender murder crisis.
According to the Memoriam tracking site, Brandi Bledsoe was found dead with a plastic bag around her head, and a gunshot wound to the chest. She was 32.
Skye Mockabee was 26 someone found her body in a parking lot with a headwound
Brittany Kidd Stergis was shot in the head Brittany was only 22.
Betty Janet Skinner was physically disabled, and found murdered in her bed. She was 52.
Cemia Dove Acoff-- Cemia’s body was found in a retention pond, nude from the waist down and tied to a block of concrete. She was stabbed 40 times. She was 20.
Keisha Wells was 58 Friends said she was hanging out at bar… then found shot the next day.
Claire Legato was only 21 years old when she was shot and killed last year.
Cleveland is the worst city for black women to live in according to a joint study from Bloomberg City Lab and the University of Pittsburgh.
“Your school system was designed to fail, you it was designed that you weren’t able to get health care is designed that you’re shut out of so many facets of life, and then transphobia on top of it,” said Turan.
Turan says the recent death 28 year old Lea Daye another transgender woman found unresponsive in the Cuyahoga County Jail adds to that point.
Advocates say since 2016 state lawmakers around the country have introduced more than 250 anti-lgbtq bills… about 42 of them targeting trangender inviduals.
“Even as a white trans woman, I have more protective factors than my black and brown trans siblings. One of the reasons why I’ve been able to make it 40 years old is I have a little bit extra protection, and a little bit extra privilege,” said Turan.
Ariel Mary Ann Shaw says, “whether someone sees my blackness or my tranness first, whether they see both, you know, whatever the case may be, you know, I, you know, my being a being a black trans woman in America, you know, I could be killed any day.”
LGBTQ advocates insist on being included in the fight for equality. Ariel Mary Ann wants people to acknowledge Black LGBTQ people, and Black trans people.
Ohio has no statewide law to LGBTQ people from being fired from their job, denied housing, asked to leave a public facility, or denied access to the appropriate restroom but… 32 cities and counties in Ohio have passed local ordinances banning LGBTQ discrimination, including many in Northeast Ohio.