During a recent appearance on "The Breakfast Club," comedian Lil Duval joked that he'd murder a partner if he learned she was transgender.
"This might sound messed up and I don't care: She dying," Lil Duval said about a hypothetical encounter with a transgender woman. "I can't deal with that... You manipulated me to believe in this thing, my mind, I can't...I'm gay now!"
Joking about murdering a transgender person would never be remotely appropriate, but this rhetoric is particularly dangerous and harmful during a time when hate crimes against transgender women, especially women of color, are on the rise.
JR Ford, the father of a six-year-old transgender daughter, responded to Lil Duval's comments and his words are a must-read.
Ford, a cisgender black man, wrote that he's "absolutely horrified that hateful rhetoric and bigotry permeates freely in the media, targeting the lives of Black transgender women and girls. Girls like my own daughter."
"This type of insensitivity has been consistently promoted and systemic through generations, including within the Black community. Black trans women are a constant target of violence, in fact a few months ago I learned that a childhood classmate of mine was one of the murdered Black trans women this year," Ford continued. "Every time I learn of another death, or hear rhetoric promoting violence, as a father I instantly think of my beautiful daughter. Just like all people, she deserves to grow up able to love and be loved and free from violence or discrimination."
In 2016, advocates tracked the murders of at least 22 transgender women. As of today, 15 transgender women have already been murdered in 2017. Although the world isn't a safe place for any transgender individual, statistics show that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color.
Ford emphasized that hate speech needs to be called out and addressed each and every time we hear it.
"Every time we let any hate speech fester without rebuke, we perpetuate a future where kids and adults like my own child could be the next target for violence merely for catching the eye of a man so insecure in them self [sic] that they would resort to violence because of attraction," he wrote. "We cannot allow that mindset to go without consequence. We cannot treat that daily threat of violence as normal."
In conclusion, Ford urged everyone to come together and stand up for marginalized communities. "We have the freedom to say what we think and we feel. We also have the freedom to stand up against hate speech and make clear that bigotry will not be tolerated. We are not in the world alone. Black trans women should not fight intolerance and bigotry alone. We must all stand up against transphobia and continue to find ways to bring the Black community together rather than promoting ways to keep us separated."