More than 50 people attended a symposium on Sept. 12 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where violence against the LGBT community and gun violence in general were discussed.
The symposium, coordinated by the LGBTQ Student Working Group at Johns Hopkins, was titled, “Violence Against LGBT Individuals: The Public Health Response.” It was in response to the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando three months earlier specifically, but presenters noted that violence against LGBT individuals happen all over.
Jordan White, a Ph.D. student moderated the program. Among the speakers were Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University; Monica Yorkman of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance; and Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research. Dr. Chris Beyrer, an expert in epidemiology and international health and director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights, moderated the panel discussion that took place following the presentations.
Yorkman explained that although Orlando was tragic, violence and abuse are suffered daily by women and trans women in Baltimore and beyond.
“Orlando was a horrible tragedy. It was a holocaust,” she told the audience. “For a lot of us, that holocaust was not an event. It’s a reality we live every day. Somewhere in this country, a transgender woman is killed almost every day. Violence equals erasure.”
Yorkman urges people to “come and get to know us” and is buoyed by the fact so many transgender people are leading successful lives.
Poet Kenneth Morrison-Wensdorfer recited the poem, “On That Night They Danced” he presented at a vigil in Baltimore following the Orlando tragedy. Activist Saida Agostini also recited an original poem.
Webster presented statistics on gun violence, which indicate an increase in occurrence once the assault weapons ban lapsed. He explained that, “gun availability not only makes aggression more lethal but increases suicides of LGBT people by guns.”
Besides Beyrer, Yorkman and Webster, the panel included Ava Pipitone, executive director of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance. In discussing intersectionality, Pipitone explained, “We have systemic oppression, racial oppression, gender identity. And it can’t be addressed without addressing all of the layers.”
In addition to violence, other issues discussed that impact the trans community included homelessness and joblessness.