Transgender community talks safety concerns in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Two recent murders in Kansas City have many around the country questioning whether or not the metro is safe for transgender people.

Jasmine Collins, a 32-year-old transgender woman, was murdered in June before another trans woman, Tamara Dominguez, was murdered Aug. 17.

RELATED: Friends believe transgender KC woman's death may be a hate crime

"Ya, I kinda worry about that because that could have been me,” said transgender Kansas City resident Lexus Galloway, who was good friends with Collins.

Galloway believes that Collins’ gender identity was just part of the reason she was killed in June. However, she also said it can be difficult to find refuge in Kansas City, saying “we need protection.”

Caroline Gibbs runs the Transgender Institute in Kansas City. She said one big concern for her was reading about the lack of statistics regarding possible hate crimes linked to the transgender population.

"There's obviously a huge discrepancy there. There is something the matter with the way this is reported,” said Gibbs.

The FBI does have a system in place to track hate crime bias towards gender-identity relying on reports from local police, however the reporting isn’t mandatory for any hate crime.

Such optional protocol may be the reason the most recent FBI stats (2013) from its ‘Uniform Crime Report’ indicate there were 33 victims of gender identity bias, while the National Coalition of Anti-Violence found more than 1,300 incidents regarding the LGBT community last year.

In fact, the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project reported a 150 percent increase in the number of reported attacks and incidents of bias-motivated violence against the transgender community in 2014.

Gibbs said this rise could partly be due to more transgender people coming out.

“Transgender people, especially transgender women, are more visible now … They’re becoming more integrated into the fabric of society … and in doing so, they become victimized.”

The National Center for Transgender Equality reports one in four trans people have faced a bias-driven assault. Tamara Dominguez was the 18th trans woman murdered in the U.S. in 2015.

The number of victims continues to climb each year.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is Nov. 20 when many in the community are expected to gather publicly to remember the lives lost to anti-transgender violence.

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Josh Helmuth can be reached at josh.helmuth@kshb.com.

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