Transgender Day of Remembrance

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 Reeves17, 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:

Image Credit: Forward Together, https://tdor.co/#download-art

BeYOUtiful Health & Hair Show

On Sunday, September 8th, the Texas Black Women’s Health Initiative in Houston (Houston BWHI) hosted a health and hair show: the 2019 beYOUtiful Health & Hair Show. This show worked to increase awareness of the factors contributing to disparities in HIV outcomes for Black women.

The beYOUtiful Health & Hair show featured panel discussions on health, love, and life. Over 250 participants were able to be a part of courageous conversations on health. Participants were introduced to ways they can embrace self-love and self-care and given messages to help them realize their self-worth. The beYOUtiful Health & Hair show featured an all-female barber battle, a vendor expo, and a hair and fashion show.

Watch this three-minute video to learn more:

Cultivating a stigma-free climate of appreciation and inclusion is one of Achieving Together’s focus areas. By addressing the language, messages, and story around HIV, we aim to create a safe, life-affirming environment that will promote health and wellness for all people.

Data Literacy Video Series

One of the tools that’s going to help us end the HIV epidemic in Texas is using data-based decision making as we move forward with making innovations and systemic changes around the state. Understanding and knowing how to collect and analyze different types of data will help us understand what changes we need to make. To do that, we all need to better understand data, how to use it and how to talk about it with our communities. In order to support communities, we are excited to announce our new Data Literacy video series! This video series will include brief overviews of everything you need to be a data superhero!

Our first three videos are up and will help you 1) understand why data matters and what we can do with it; 2) where we get all of our HIV data in Texas, and 3) what the HIV treatment cascade is, and some of the ways we can use it.

We will be releasing more videos in this series throughout the year – if you have suggestions on what you would like to see in our Data Literacy series let us know!

Achieving Together Goes to Washington

Achieving Together Partners and University of Texas at Austin Health Innovation and Evaluation Team members had the opportunity to learn and share at the 2019 United States Conference on AIDS. On Saturday, September 7, we presented the Achieving Together plan to over 40 USCA conference attendees through an interactive workshop session. Watch this video of us in action.

Achieving Together Partners were actively involved in the entire conference. Here are some of their highlights.

Steven Vargas:

This year’s USCA focused on efforts to finally End the HIV Epidemic. It made very clear that to finally end the epidemic levels of HIV, we will need more than the biomedical advances to do so. We must address racism and sexism and their attendant atrocities (homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, poverty, etc.) and the havoc they bring (unemployment, hunger, homelessness, trauma, etc.). If fighting against HIV has taught us anything, it is that no matter what pills are in the pipeline, if we do not address these challenges in an equitable manner, they will continue to persist. HIV will continue to persist. If we are serious about finally ending the damage HIV can cause, then we must do more than address the medical side of HIV, and focus on the social side.

Justin Henry:

  1. The opening plenary session was most illuminating. Dr. Redfield stressed the importance of incorporating alternative, disruptively innovative non-clinical approaches for linking and retaining people to comprehensive prevention and treatment services. Fifty percent of the HIV epidemic is found in a handful of jurisdictions, however, the complexity of HIV is heightened in rural populations. Housing is a “medical” issue and along with addiction and substance misuse, achieving viral suppression is problematic. The comorbidities associated with HIV must be addressed if we are to end the HIV epidemic. U=U; if everyone did this, the epidemic could end.
  2. The panels with various populations provided their perceptions on the challenges of ending the HIV epidemic. Representatives from several demographics (Native American, Trans-identified, Latinx, African Americans) provided their insights on what needs to happen in their communities. Fear is a mounting concern for those outside of care and creating a safe place with a competent, culturally sensitive workforce with whom clients can relate is important. Mental and psychological barriers impact health care access. People need to be engaged in saving themselves and should engage each other in seeking care.
  3. The plenary session hosted by Gilead Sciences was enlightening because it gave perspective on the progress that has been made since the epidemic began as well as the legislation, organizations, and systems of care that evolved out of necessity. The shift from the primary focus of caring for people living with HIV who were on their deathbeds to not just caring for people, but preventing people from acquiring HIV, was presented brilliantly.

Pedro Coronado

  1. There are plenty of homegrown interventions and marketing tools created by and for the people we serve. Sometimes I think we overlook the abundance of resources that are made available to us at these conferences. The developers of these programs/tools are giving it away for us to use at no charge. We spend so much time and energy recreating something that is already out there for us to utilize. I observed this in many of the sessions at USCA.
  2. A session that really stuck with me was on white supremacy culture in the workplace. It transcended beyond white privilege. I realized that sometimes we are picked because of our last name or the color of our skin, but that does not always translate to us having a connection to all the people that we are supposed to represent. I was also very surprised to hear that many attendees of that session are the only person of color in their organization or in leadership positions.