We are in the middle of Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates November 20th with Transgender Day of Remembrance – a day set aside to honor those people who have died as a result of anti-trans violence. While it is important to take time to grieve and remember the lives of those who have died, we also need to be intentional about talking about and supporting transgender and gender non-conforming people while they are living and thriving, especially trans women of color who disparately experience anti-trans violence. A few years ago, community activists and artists from the Audre Lorde Project and Forward Together joined forces to initiate the Transgender Day of Resilience. As stated in their mission statement:
“Trans Day of Resilience is an offering to trans people of color everywhere. Artists and poets have come together to imagine our uncompromised freedom and seed our future world. We invite you to imagine, feel into and build this world with us.
Trans communities of color face epidemic levels of discrimination and violence, and this violence overwhelmingly targets Black trans women and femmes. November 20 marks Trans Day of Remembrance, an annual memorial for our murdered kin. While we mourn, we also honor the resilience of our trans family.
We know our power — our dreams of freedom could set the whole world free. So we offer this space, by and for trans people of color, to see ourselves, celebrate one another, nurture resistance and femifest a world of trans liberation.”
So while we take the time to grieve and remember those we have lost, we must also focus on the future and supporting trans freedom and trans liberation. You can support the work of national organizations like the folks who have been organizing the Transgender Day of Resilience. In Texas, there are several organizations that are led by the transgender community for the transgender community, including but not limited to: the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, Organization Latina de Trans en Texas, The House of Rebirth, and the Texas Transgender Alliance.
In recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance, we want to honor and remember the lives of those individuals who died as a result of anti-trans violence. 2019 has seen at least 24 people who lost their lives due to anti-trans violence, including 5 women in Texas. We acknowledge that there may be more folks on this list – too often these stories go unreported or misreported. Credit to the HRC for compiling this list:
- Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, an Alabama-based trans advocate, said that “she was a person that was loved by many.”
- Jazzaline Ware, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in her Memphis apartment in March. Her death is being investigated as a homicide, according to The Advocate. “Our community in Memphis is mourning the death of Jazzaline Ware, a Black trans woman and beloved friend,” said the Transgender Law Center in a press release. Further details are unknown as of May 31, 2019.
- Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on March 30. “Until I leave this Earth, I’m going to continue on loving her in my heart, body, and soul,” said Philip Williams, Carmon’s fiancé. “She did not deserve to leave this Earth so early, especially in the way that she went out.
- Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Friends and family took to social media to mourn Legato’s death, remembering her as someone who was “full of life.”
- Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Friends, family and advocates across the country took to social media to mourn Booker, sharing their shock and disbelief. “Such a beautiful spirit taken too soon,” wrote one person. “She lived her life and loved all of who she was.”
- Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Washington, who was also known by the name Tameka, is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
- Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti-LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit on May 25, according to local reports. Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men, were found dead at the scene and Cameron was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two other victims were also shot but survived. “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community, including transgender women of color,” Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
- Chynal Lindsey, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake, Dallas, with signs of “homicidal violence” on June 1, according to police. Friends, family and community members took to social media to share their shock at her death, describing her as “smiling” and “a person I had never seen mad.”
- Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. “RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
- Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. “She was my daughter — very bright and very full of life,” transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
- Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. “I love you, Brooklyn Lindsey,” wrote a friend on Twitter. “I shall live on for you. Rest in power, sista.”
- Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 20. “I lost my best friend, first cousin,” wrote a family member on Facebook. “We were more than cousin. We were like brother and sisters. I love you so much, Pooh.”
- Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston on July 30. “Rest in power and peace Tracy,” wrote Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender advocate. “You were taken away from us way too soon.”
- Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July. Walker was reported missing on July 26. She is remembered by friends and family as “one of those people who was really fun to be around. She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
- Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami on July 31. Fantroy’s mother remembered her as having “a heart of gold” and being “a very loving person.” She also pleaded for justice for her daughter, saying, “My baby, my baby. Please help bring justice to my baby.”
- Jordan Cofer, 22, was among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4. While Cofer was only out to a handful of close friends and used the pronouns he/him/his on his social media profiles, he is remembered by friends as “extremely bright” and “well-liked.” A friend told Splinter News that “Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
- Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina, on August 4. Doe’s friends and family remembered her as having a “bright personality,” and being someone who “showed love” and who was “the best to be around.”
- Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2. She is remembered as “a person who lived her life to the fullest.”
- Bee Love Slater, 23, was killed in Clewiston, Florida, on September 4. Slater is remembered by loved ones as someone “with a really, really sweet heart” who “never harmed anyone.”
- Jamagio Jamar Berryman, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 13. Local activists and community members joined family and friends at a vigil and took to social media to mourn Berryman’s loss.
- Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman was found shot in Houston on September 20. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, as reported by Monica Roberts of TransGriot. “You deserved to live a full and robust life surrounded by people who embraced and celebrated your real self,” wrote Sue Kerr, an LGBTQ columnist.
- Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, was fatally shot in Kansas City on October 14. Kansas City Police Capt. Tim Hernandez told local press that the alleged shooter remained at the scene until they arrived. She was a beloved member of her community, a fan of the Kansas City football team and loved spreading joy by sharing funny videos on her Facebook page.
Additionally, HRC is deeply concerned about the deaths of Johana ‘Joa’ Medina and Layleen Polanco, whose stories we are following closely:
- Johana ‘Joa’ Medina, 25, died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas just hours after being released from ICE custody. She suffered severe health complications that went untreated while she was in detention, according to Diversidad Sin Fronteras. According to OJ Pitaya, an advocate with the group, Medina dreamed of coming to the U.S. to become certified as a nurse, since she was unable to practice as a transgender woman in her home country.
- Layleen Polanco, 27, was found dead in a cell at Riker’s Island on June 7. Polanco was described by those who knew her as “a sweet, amazing […] and generous human being.”