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Saving Indigenous Trans Women

Native American

A New Mexico task force held a special meeting this week to address violence against trans and queer Indigenous people.

The New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women task force held a public meeting on Thursday on the topic of violence against queer and trans people in the community. While the task force isn't new, discussing the issue of violence against Indigenous trans people is a new topic for them.

The meeting was moderated by Mattee Jim of the Zuni People Clan and born for the House People Clan, who said that trans women, as well as the entire LGBTQ+ community are often forgotten in conversations about violence against Indigenous women. "Trans people are human beings," she said, adding that "rarely do you find laws and policies in tribal communities that protect us, especially for trans individuals."

The task force, which was created in 2019, has been holding meetings like this all year, but Jim said that trans and queer people are often missing from those discussions. "It's called 'Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,' but with our trans population, we see a lot of murders and violence within our communities," she said.

"Statistically, the data (about anti-trans violence) is there," she continued. She wants the task force to "start collecting that data within each individual tribe" so they can expand services they provide and get more funding, hopefully on a state or federal level.

Jaelynn Littlebear, a descendant of Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris Pueblos, Mvskoke Creek, Euchee, Cree, and Shawnee nations also spoke out about the issue. "Why do we have to be worried all the time if someone is coming for us because of who we are and who we look like?" she asked. "I don't want that for any other youth, I don't want that for my sister."

According to the Department of Justice, Indigenous women in America face murder rates more than 10 times those of the national average. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for Indigenous girls and women aged 10-24 and the fifth leading cause for Indigenous women between 25-34. So far this year, at least 31 trans people have been murdered in the United States, and most of them are trans women of color.

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