On MSNBC, TransGriot's Monica Roberts highlights how anti-trans rhetoric has resulted in violence against trans folks

Roberts: “That rhetoric just doesn't go out in thin air. It is resulting in violence being directed at trans folks.”

Monica Roberts_Live with Kendis Gibson_1/5/2020

On MSNBC, trans advocate and founder of the TransGriot blog Monica Roberts highlighted the connection between anti-trans violence and years of rhetoric against the trans community -- including attacks from the Trump administration and trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs. 

Roberts was interviewed about the death of Dustin Parker, a transgender man who was fatally shot in Oklahoma on January 1. His death is believed to be the first U.S. homicide of a trans person in 2020 and follows the violent killings of at least 25 trans or gender nonconforming people in 2019, most of whom were Black trans women. 

During the January 4 edition of MSNBC Live with Kendis Gibson, Roberts specifically noted that violence against the trans community is the result of years of anti-trans rhetoric from both the Trump-Pence administration -- which has led a crusade to roll back federal protections for LGBTQ people in housing, health care, education, and employment -- and TERFs, anti-trans activists who identify as liberal or feminist. Roberts said, “That rhetoric just doesn’t go out in thin air. It is resulting in violence being directed at trans folks, which in a lot of cases turns fatal.” 

Roberts also spoke out against so-called “trans panic” defenses, which are legal strategies that “seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant's violent reaction.” 

Video file

Citation From the January 5 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live with Kendis Gibson

KENDIS GIBSON (ANCHOR): Another transgender person has been murdered, this time just east of Oklahoma City. Police are looking for a suspect after transgender activist Dustin Parker was found shot to death in his car early New Year’s Day. This may be actually the first violent death for a transgender or gender nonconfirming person in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. 

Well, joining me now is Monica Roberts who is a transgender activist and the founder of TransGriot. So, Monica, I know that the trend lines and what we've been hearing about all of this over the last year, but what is going on here? 

MONICA ROBERTS (TRANSGRIOT): What's going on is the result of several years of anti-trans rhetoric -- that has been spread by not only the Trump administration but trans-exclusionary radical feminist, also the Republican Parties at the national, local, and state levels. That's -- that rhetoric just doesn't go out in thin air. It is resulting in violence being directed at trans folks, which in a lot of cases turns fatal. 

GIBSON: Really quickly here, what can be done about this? 

ROBERTS: It is going to take a combination of things. First off, the things that we will have to do is that we have to, when folks are being prosecuted for these, -- like right now, you have a case going on in Vancouver, Washington, where Nikki Kuhnhausen, the 17-year-old, was killed. The person has been given bail for this murder. 

GIBSON: OK, so you're calling for tougher -- 

ROBERTS: Yeah. Has been given bail. 


ROBERTS: There are a lot of cases where when we do say try to prosecute these, the trans panic defense is used. 

GIBSON: Got it. 

ROBERTS: There are eight states now in which there is a ban on trans, say the trans panic defense. Unfortunately, my home state of Texas is not one of them. 

GIBSON: Alright, so you're saying basically that a lot of the laws do need to change, but in the meantime, people need to be on the look out and stay safe.

Notably, a day prior to his interview with Roberts, Gibson hosted ACLU attorney Chase Strangio to discuss the Trump-Pence administration’s latest discrimination against the trans community. Strangio discussed the trend of the administration removing LGBTQ mentions from federal anti-discrimination guidelines, most recently in the Interior Department. During the January 4 segment, Strangio noted that “what it's actually about is sending a public message that this administration is not invested in the LGBTQ community and is taking affirmative steps across the federal government to encourage discrimination against LGBT people.”

Roberts also appeared on ABC in October to discuss how the media can respectfully and accurately report on anti-trans violence, though historically, cable and broadcast TV news have failed to adequately cover anti-LGBTQ violence.