Culture

Mel Robert Groves Is the 39th Trans Person Murdered in 2021


“It just hurts that there are people who still don’t feel like we deserve peace even in death,” Quentin Bell, director of TKO Society and a close friend of Groves, told them. “At a time when we honestly felt like we could depend on at least the media to get it right, especially after reaching out. … It’s very reflective of the times and how hard it is to bring change to a place like Mississippi.”

“At some point in time, you just want people to see you as human,” Bell added.

WAPT eventually removed its story misgendering Graves following criticism from local activists. Other outlets have since corrected their coverage to reflect Groves’s correct name and pronouns, while some have removed any references to gendered pronouns.

Misgendering is a problem that plagues media coverage of the current epidemic of trans homicides and suicides in the United States. In addition to being disrespectful and alienating to the victims’ loved ones, misgendering and deadnaming can hinder investigations into trans homicides. The trend also contributes to violent trans deaths being widely underreported: While the HRC has counted at least 39 homicides this year, the true number is likely much higher.

At the current estimate, 2021 is on pace to break last year’s record high of 44 reported trans homicides. Groves is also the second reported Black trans person murdered in Jackson this year. The first was Dominique Jackson, a Black trans activist who was shot and killed in January, as them. previously reported.

Jackson was also deadnamed and misgendered in the press, by WAPT specifically.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a national LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, said in a statement that these deaths are a reminder that transgender people remain uniquely vulnerable to violence. In August, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) reported a 25% increase in hate crimes motivated by the victim’s gender identity between 2019 and 2020.

“Trans people should not have to fear violence simply because of their identity, but that is our country’s current reality,” said Victoria Kirby York, NBJC’s deputy executive director. “How many times do advocates have to demand legislation that protects the trans community before lawmakers introduce and pass laws that do so? How many times must we point out that misgendering and deadnaming in police reports and news coverage damages the investigations?”

“The time for action is now before even more lives are lost,” she added.

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