At Friday night’s historic LGBTQ Forum, candidates were asked to give opening statements by way of answering a simple, common question: what can voters expect from them in the first 100 days of office, if elected. Elizabeth Warren, who came up to the stage shortly after it was announced that the forum was trending in the top five topics worldwide on Twitter, told the audience that she would rather show than tell.
In a moving tribute, her hands shaking at some points, Warren began to read off the 18 names of the Black trans women that have been reported murdered this year.
Last week Ja’leyah-Jamar became the 19th known transgender person killed this year in America, and the 18th Black transgender woman. She is the second Black transgender person to be killed in Kansas City in 2019; Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, was killed across state lines in Missouri this June.
Warren included the names of Michelle Tamika Washington, 40, who was fatally shot in Philadelphia. Paris Cameron, Chanel Scurlock, Chynal Lindsey, Ashanti Carmon, and Zoe Spears (the latter two killed in the same Maryland neighborhood).
“18 trans women of color who have been killed so far this year,” she said after reading the list. “It is time for a president of the United States of America to say their names.” The audience rose for a standing ovation before the candidate went on to say that “cost of inequality for trans people, particularly trans women of color, has now reached a moment of crisis and it is time for everyone in America to speak out on this issue.”
Warren also expressed her commitment to the Equality Act, an expansive LGBTQ+ rights bill that passed the House of Representatives in May — the bill would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing, public spaces, education, and other areas of life. She was also asked by Lyz Lenz, who posed as moderator for Warren’s section, about a slate of cases headed to the Supreme Court that would grossly affect LGBTQ+ rights.
“We always have to remember in this democracy, we’ve relied on our courts to protect the rights of individuals — that’s why they’re there, to protect the minority, to protect the individual,” she replied. “I hope we don’t lose this case, I will stay on top of this, but remember, we also have a Congress that we can hold accountable. And our Congress can decide that we all are equal in this country, and that is the fight I’m ready to lead.”