Thus far in 2019, at least twelve blacktransgender women have been murdered, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group. Here are their names and the places where they died:
Dana Martin, Montgomery, Alabama. Jazzaline Ware, Memphis, Tennessee. Ashanti Carmon, Prince George’s County, Maryland. Claire Legato, Cleveland, Ohio. Muhlaysia Booker, Dallas, Texas. Michelle “Tamika” Washington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Paris Cameron, Detroit, Michigan. Chynal Lindsey, Dallas, Texas. Chanel Scurlock, Lumberton, North Carolina. Zoe Spears, Fairmount Heights, Maryland. Brooklyn Lindsey, Kansas City, Missouri. Denali Berries Stuckey, North Charleston, South Carolina.
Eight of these women were in their twenties. The oldest was forty.
Seven of the killings were in the South. Eight of the victims were fatally shot. Martin was found in a roadside ditch in her vehicle. Booker was found dead, facedown with a gunshot wound. Ware was found dead in her apartment, Lindsey on the front porch of an abandoned house, and Spears on the street, mere blocks from where Carmon was killed less than three months prior.
Booker was also attacked a month before her death in an incident the mayor of Dallas described as “mob violence.”
Cameron was shot with four other victims; two survived and two gay men also died. Commented Alanna Maguire, president of the group Fair Michigan, “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community including transgender women of color.”
There is a suspect in only one of the twelve murders: that of Legato. He’s a sixty-one-year-old man, now charged with felonious assault. He’s has been at large since April 15.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, “while the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, health care and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”
HRC Foundation’s “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018” cited 128 known victims of anti-transgender violence from 2013 to 2018; nearly two-thirds were victims of gun violence. The group noted that most of the victims—at least 74 percent—were misgendered in initial media reports.
Why are black transgender women being targeted? Veronika Fimbres, a sixty-six-year-old black trans woman living in San Francisco, thinks transphobia is more prominent in black communities and blames black churches for fostering hatred and secrecy.
“The church’s attitude towards gender non-conformity is key towards the violence against black trans women,” Fimbres told me. “They have been slow in accepting trans folks. If it is revealed that a church-going man has had sex with a trans woman he and his friends question not only his manhood but his sexual orientation. What does that make him? It’s a mental quandary coupled with testosterone animus and bullying. It’s a cocktail for violence against trans women.”
It is clear that, in some quarters, black lives do not matter and black trans women lives matter even less.
As a cisgender black lesbian who is frequently misgendered, I stand with my sisters in opposition to the hate and violence, and hope for education and tolerance.
We are all human beings. You do not have to love us but doing us no harm should be the minimum standard.
We need to put an end to the hatred that fuels the killings of black trans women.