Sunday, May 19th, at 6:04 am, Muhlaysia Booker, a Dallas trans woman who was the victim of a heinous beating and assault one month earlier that was made viral by the video that had circulated the internet and social media sites, was found dead; the victim of a gunshot wound.  The initial April 12thon Booker, which led to the arrest of Edward Thomas, was spurned by an apparent promise of $200 if the attack was carried out (the promise coming from an unidentifiable voice on the video.)


At the time, Muhlaysia Booker was the 4thblack trans woman killed this year.  Her death, along with the deaths of Claire Legato, Ashanti Carmon, and Dana Martin, continue to highlight the increasing violence against black trans women.  While trans persons are murdered at an alarming rate (at least 28 were killed in 2018), at least 70% of those are black trans women.  These numbers and percentages could very well be much higher due to the fact that there is no central database or sense of urgency for reporting trans deaths (as well as the misgendering, mislabeling, and an underlying layer of transphobia, misogynoir, and homophobia.)


One day after Booker was found dead, another trans woman, Michelle “Tameka” Washington, was identified and found dead in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  


The majority of these deaths are happening in the South.  



It’s no longer about shock; especially being a black trans woman in the South.  This is real life.  Real life is knowing that it’s open season on black trans women and we are not even afforded the same right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ as other people.  No one should have to fear living life.  So many trans women I have personally met fear leaving their homes for anything outside of work.  There is an uncomfortable air of danger, death, and fear for us.  Even as I choose to live my life unapologetically and out loud, I have that small feeling on anxiety and fear in the pit of my stomach. Why?  Because I am Muhlaysia Booker.  I am Michelle Washington.  I am Claire Legato.  I am Ashanti Carmon.  I am Dana Martin.  


Moving from Los Angeles, which is seemingly (seemingly being the operative word) a mecca for queer identity, gender expression, and sexual freedom, to the South, I never once questioned if I was going to move different or live any other way.  But, living in the social bubble that is Los Angeles and So-Cal, I never imagined how hard it is to essentially exist in the world.  On any given day, we as black trans women have a target on our back and are often. We are defenseless against daily ridicule and mockery, against cisgendered transphobia, and against unwarranted and triggered attacks. We are so busy having to get through any given situation, from going to the store to traveling to work, that it is often impossible to live even a sustainable and adequate life.  Love, friendships, and leisure are distant luxuries almost always out of our grasp.  


It’s not that the world is failing trans women.  The world, through their ignorance, misgendering, misreporting (or not reporting at all), and the silence or indifference of “allies”, has already failed black trans women.  To protect our sisters, we have to do more than simply hashtag them.  By the time we hashtag their name, it is too late.  We must take a stand with black trans women and express and show that their lives and existence not only matter, but are crucial to our societal fabric.  Black trans women are oftentimes left out of those rooms, tables, and conversations that affect them the most, and it is the job of our allies to fight for us, to speak for us, and to stand with us.  


I will continue to be a bad bitch and to live my life on my terms, but the sad reality is I could very much be the next woman slain, for living in her truth and being who she is.