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The Trifecta of Violence: A Socio-Historical Comparison of Lynching and Violence Against Transgender Women


This article explores violence against transgender women—from the state control of trans bodies through laws and policies to an apparent increase in transphobic murders in the United States (US). Using a socio-historical comparison to the legacy of racism, racist policies, and lynching in the US, we consider the relationship between hateful rhetoric, state-sanctioned discrimination, such as North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (known as “House Bill 2” or “HB2”), and the recently reported uptick in the murders of transgender women of color. Given the feminist backlash and racial threat rhetoric that characterizes the current political landscape, an exploration into this link is crucial to understanding the extreme threats facing transgender women.

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  1. The authors have chosen to capitalize “Black” but not “white” when referring to race, reflecting evolving norms in journalism (see Bauder 2020; Laws 2020).

  2. We have chosen to use the first names of these women because, all too often, our society fails to honor the identities of transgender people—to include the names that they have chosen. Our intent is to humanize these victims in the manner that they deserve.

  3. The use of the term, “criminal legal system,” in lieu of “criminal justice system,” is an intentional choice to reflect the lack of “justice” within the system.

  4. “Transgendered” is an outdated and offensive term, as one is not “femaled” or “maled”—or “transgendered.”


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We would like to sincerely thank the reviewers and the guest editor for their thoughtful and detailed feedback.

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Correspondence to Emily Lenning.

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Lenning, E., Brightman, S. & Buist, C.L. The Trifecta of Violence: A Socio-Historical Comparison of Lynching and Violence Against Transgender Women. Crit Crim 29, 151–172 (2021).

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