by Monica Roberts
‘The dehumanizing transphobic rhetoric needs to stop because anti-trans hate thoughts can morph into anti-trans hate speech that leads to anti-trans hate violence.’
–Monica Roberts, BGD. May 2014.
I wrote those words in last month’s BGD column, and unfortunately they have manifested themselves in real life a month later.
After a relatively quiet year so far in terms of US based trans women facing murderous anti-trans violence aimed at us, the month of June has suddenly become a deadly one for my trans sisters of color.
First there was 40 year old Kandy Hall, whose lifeless body was found June 3 lying in a northeast Baltimore, MD field near a school and playground. While I and other members of the national trans community were gathered in Philadelphia for the 13th annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, on June 13 the body of 28 year old Latina trans* activist Zoraida ‘Ale’ Reyes was found in an Anaheim, CA Dairy Queen parking lot.
The very next week, the shot and burned body of 31 year old Yaz’min Shancez was found behind a dumpster in a Fort Myers, FL alley. To add more emotional baggage to the horrific way that Shancez was killed for her family and friends, her death happened two years to the day her 16 year old sister Cha’Riah Owens was shot and killed.
Now we complete a deadly month for transwomen of color with the news that on June 26 the body of 28 year old Tiffany Edwards was found at 8 AM EDT shot to death and lying in the street by a sanitation worker in the Cincinnati suburb of Walnut Hills, OH.
That is four transwomen of color, three African-American, one Latina who were killed in the month of June. That is four trans women whose lives were brutally snuffed out. That is four families who instead of planning future birthday parties and celebrating their lives are mourning them and planning funerals. The other common thread besides the fact all of these ladies were trans women of color is that they were age 40 and under.
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As I contemplated the other issues cropping up in this deadly month for trans women, I was majorly pissed off about the far too common racist pattern of murdered African-American trans women being further disrespected in death by the media.
In addition to being misgendered, Hall, Shancez and Edwards had their criminal records injected into the stories written about them when it wasn’t necessary to do so. Shancez and Edwards had to endure another layer of post-mortem indignity in terms of having their mugshots included in the initial stories about their deaths.
And I’m beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of this happening to my African-American trans* sisters.
It’s even more infuriating when in Kandy Hall’s case, it was done to her by the Washington Blade, an influential gay newspaper that should know better. I guess I should be thankful that Michael. K. Lavers, the author of the piece, didn’t publish a mugshot with it, too
I’m also sick and tired of the near genocidal level of violence that has been aimed at girls like me. I’m upset the potential contributions these ladies could have made to society are now lost to us forever.
I’m angry about four more names we will have to read and light candles for at this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies around the country and the world on November 20.
And speaking of the world, I shudder to think about how many of my Brazilian sisters died this month in comparison to the four too many deaths we had here in the United States.
Will the murderers of our four fallen trans sisters be expeditiously caught and brought to justice? Only the passage of time and the quality of the police work will answer that question.
But one thing I do know is I’m tired of my sisters getting killed and elements of the Black and Latin@ communities not caring about it.
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Monica Roberts, aka the TransGriot (Gree-oh), is a native Houstonian and a trailblazing award winning trans community leader. Her writing about trans issues from an Afrocentric perspective has appeared at Ebony.com, Loop21.com Transadvocate, The Huffington Post, Racialicious, Feministe, Global Comment, The Bilerico Project, Elixher, What Tami Said and Womanist Musings.