American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-16-2018


The number of transgender folks in the United States lost to murder increases every year. These murders have recently gained more recognition, with the memorials moving from trans-run organizations and communities to mainstream LGBTQ groups. Using visual culture and discourse analysis of four transgender murder memorials, I argue there are problematic trends of centering a white and cisgender audience, and lack of acknowledging trans livability. Memorials like Transgender Day of Remembrance take place every year, and though the oldest memorial for trans death in the country and most well known, the event creates a spectacle of violence for cisgender consumption and erases the race of the victims for white comfort. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ organization in the U.S., creates a yearly report on transgender violence. The report centers cisgender readers, a trend that the organization echoes in its history and practices. Online media conglomerate launched an interactive database and report to highlight the trans murder epidemic, and unpack it with an intersectional lens. The visual aspects of the report highlight trans livability and self representation, reminding the readers that trans folks are not just murder victims. Finally, Autostraddle’s online reporting by trans woman of color Mey Rude always reminds readers of the disproportionate rate that Black trans femmes are murdered compared to their cisgender and white counterparts. Rude also includes actionable steps for readers to support trans women of color while they’re still here, highlighting the promotion of trans livability alongside trans mourning.




Transgender, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Black Transgender, Transgender Murders, Memorials

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Amy L. Brandzel

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Schreiber

Third Committee Member

Alyosha Goldstein