BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Keeva Scatter was her name. Aside from that, not much else is known about her, except her murder.
On Oct. 15, Scatter’s body was found on West Brookstown Drive and Prescott Road, according to the Baton Rouge Police Department. The 34-year-old was a block away from her home. No suspects have been named and there have been no arrests.
Keeva’s story is part of an epidemic in the U.S. that seems to get worse each year: murders of transgender women.
“There is hate directed at trans people and trans women get the brunt of that hate,” said SK Groll, a local advocate. “For a number of reasons that include a ton misogyny and that include a ton of ignorance.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2021, at least 50 trans and non-gender conforming people were murdered. Most of them were people of color. So far this year, 11 trans people have been murdered.
“As a white trans person I’m not going to face that type of violence,” Groll explained. “Black women in general face higher rates of violence, and particularly Black trans women”
Groll is not only a trans activist and advocate, but they are also a member of TIDAL, or Trans and Gender Non-conforming Inclusive Development Advocacy and Leadership. It’s an agency that helps give trans-inclusive training in professional settings. Groll says TIDAL is needed to help create safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community in work environments, but what about schools?
Luz Randolph is Louisiana State University’s Associate Vice President Provost for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She says there is a safe place for LGBTQ+ students and staff at LSU.
“They are really honestly identifying who they are as individuals and they need a space that they can do so without the judgment and without the fear,” Randolph explained.
Randolph’s office offers safe space training and listening sessions. They also advise students who identify as LGBTQ+. But, advocates say safe spaces like this one are getting harder to come by.
“The efforts to erase us from communities say more about that community’s values than about trans people,” Groll said.
There are now several pieces of legislation in Louisiana, that many consider anti-LGBTQ+. Senate Bill 44 bans trans girls from playing on a sports team that supports their gender identity. There’s also a bill that would ban gender-affirming healthcare.
Let’s not forget the copycat bill, similar to the “Don’t Say Gay Law” in Florida.
“What this legislation does is it opens the door for trans girls to be scrutinized even more,” Groll said.
But as the bills pile up, the protests persist. The Real Name Campaign is a trans advocacy group based in New Orleans. The group has protested at the New Orleans City Hall, and the State Capitol, often getting thrown out by security.
“The bills that we are seeing, they bolster violence against trans people, because they touch so many different areas of life,” said Mar Ehrlich, a member of the group.
Along with protesting legislation, the group is involved in making IDs more accessible to trans people who want to update their personal information such as their driver’s license. The Real Name Campaign says the picketing, the marching, and the chanting will continue.
“I am not sure they actually see trans people as human beings, with bodies, with hopes, with dreams, and with the desire to not only stay alive but the thrive while we’re alive,” organizers said.
This is so that no other trans woman will meet Keeva Scatter’s fate.