Life as a transgender woman of color: Lourdes Ashley Hunter

Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Master of Public Administration and co-founder/national director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, eagerly opens the floor up to questions and comments about the lecture. (Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Lourdes Ashley Hunter, National Director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, spoke in Forum Hall about violence and other obstacles that occur in the everyday life of a transgender woman of color and what she did to overcome obstacles in her life to become a successful woman Tuesday evening.

Melia Fritch, assistant professor and librarian of undergraduate and community services, said Hunter was chosen to speak to give the local community an opportunity to learn more about the news.

“We try to pick topics that kids are sharing on Facebook, and go deeper than just what the headline is about,” Fritch said.

Fritch first heard about Hunter from an article in the New York Times about six months ago.

“Her work is amazing, and through videos online I really got a chance to see what she was about,” Fritch said.

According to Hunter, transgender women, especially of transgender women of color, are discriminated against.

Hunter spoke of the hardships of transgender women, and said the average income for transgender person is less than $10,000. She also said the suicide rate among transgender people before the age of 21 is 41 percent, and that the average age of transgender women of color is under the age of 30.

Because of these statistics, Hunter said she believes that she is living on borrowed time.

According to Hunter, state legislation is not always on the side of people who identify as transgender.

“In 36 states, it is legal to discriminate against transgender people in areas like housing, employment and health care,” Hunter said.

According to Hunter, simple things, such a having the correct gender on your driver’s license, are something Hunter said people take for granted. However, many transgender people are prohibited from having a driver’s license where the photo does not match the gender on the card.

“When you are going to the store to buy some wine and a transgender person has to pull out their ID they are outing themselves, and putting themselves in path of violence,” Hunter said.

Hunter’s presentation spoke of different forms of violence and clarified the misconception that violence is not always physical.

“Misgendering is a form of violence,” Hunter said. “When you laugh at jokes that transgender people are the butt of, that is an act of violence.”

Hunter said she joined TWOCC after Islan Nettles, another transgender woman of color, was beaten to death by a man because he cat-called her and then later realized her gender identity.

“That stood out most to me because it shows how unfairly they are treated,” Justice Bishop, freshman in music education, said of Hunter’s reason for joining TWOCC.

According to Hunter, transgender women of color’s issues often do not make the news headlines.

“Twenty women this year have been murdered for being transgender women of color,” Hunter said.

Hunter said her goal of the lecture was to examine shifting the narrative and exploring the ways state-sanctioned violence manifests in our lives.