Katrina Johnson, whose genderfluid teen's murder is now being investigated by the Department of Justice as a hate crime, has a message for Donald Trump: "It shouldn’t have taken for a child to lose his life, and for everybody to think it was a hate crime, for [the administration] to step up and do something."
"They need to continue to do something, even after this case is over," Johnson told The Huffington Post.
Her child, Kedarie Johnson, used male pronouns but enjoyed dressing in girls' clothes and sometimes went by the name Kandicee. He was shot to death in Burlington, Iowa last year and, in a surprising move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a federal lawyer to help prosecute one of the men on trial, as reported by The New York Times. The state of Iowa didn't prosecute Johnson's murder as a hate crime because, under state law, the statute applies to sexual orientation but not gender identity.
Sessions' move was unexpected given his track record with LGBTQ rights: He's already rolled back civil rights protections for transgender people and stated it should be legal to fire employees for being LBGTQ.
Although Johnson is grateful that the Trump administration is aiding in her son's murder trial, she urges the president to do more to prevent future crimes against the LGBTQ community.
"Because he’s a kid, I would hope that something like this would happen and I’m grateful," Shaunda Campbell, former career center coordinator at Burlington Community High School, told The Huffington Post. "But, there’s so many people that this has happened to, and if nothing else, I’m hoping this will get some recognition around the United States that hey, this isn’t okay that people are getting killed because they’re transgender or gender-fluid or [because of their sexual orientation.]"
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2015 survey found that 34 percent of lesbian, bisexual, and gay students were bullied on school property and 10 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. (The CDC has since updated their data methods to include transgender and queer teens, and future surveys will include these members of the LGBTQ community.)
A separate survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. Meanwhile, USA Today reported in June that 2016 was the deadliest year on record for LGBTQ people. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported a 17% increase in hate killings from the previous year.
As Johnson says, it's inexcusable to wait for a child (or any individual) to lose his or her life before discrimination is taken seriously. The Trump administration has the power to take steps to put protections in place for the LGBTQ community and they can start by reinstating Obama-era rules and regulations such as the transgender bathroom bill.