A grim number
Kansas Citians are known for their decency. “Kansas City nice” refers to our polite and welcoming conduct.
But Kansas City is becoming the U.S. city where black transgender women and gender-nonconforming people are most likely to be murdered. Of 22 such murders nationwide this year, at least three have occurred locally. This means that Kansas City streets have seen more than 13% of the homicides of these vulnerable people this year — an alarming statistic that must fuel our collective efforts to organize to stop the violence.
To add to this concern, the actual numbers are likely even higher. The Human Rights Commission states: “Often transgender murders go unreported or misreported, with police misgendering victims” — referring to them by the gender they do not identify as. Lack of data on the extent of the problem may indicate that we are only scratching the surface or just beginning to unveil a long-standing problem in our city.
The police department, mayor and City Council leadership must prioritize the safety of transgender people. We must further prioritize policies and strategies to combat the gun violence occurring in Kansas City. Like most murders, these crimes have primarily been committed by male perpetrators with guns.
Kansas Citians must also demand new policies, safety initiatives, inclusive spaces and other innovations to protect transgender people in our community.
- Kate Heinen, Kansas City