Say Their Names: Murders of Trans People Skyrocket in 2015

Most of them are trans women of color. Most are young: almost all are under 40. They’ve been shot, stabbed, beaten, and run over. They’ve been killed because society treats them like trash, and their killers get the message that they’re disposable.

This is why I have no patience left for so-called “good” people who won’t acknowledge that trans women are women, who buddy up with the people who vilify them, deny their womanhood, and work to get legislation passed that discriminates against them. It’s why I won’t tolerate slurs and derogatory jokes about trans people in my presence. Every bit of bigotry, no matter how small it may seem, adds to the danger and prejudice they face. And I am not willing for my trans siblings to suffer anymore. They have as much right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as my white cis self does. Every single one of them was a beautiful, valuable human being. Every single one of them should have had a long, rich, and fulfilling life.

That, my cis friends, is why we must use our privilege to do all we can to end the social and legal violence done to them. And when you find it hard to do that work, there will be a list of names that should shore up your resolve.

Say their names:

Elisha Walker, 20. Trans woman of color. Missing since October 2014, body found August 15, 2015.

Image shows Elisha Walker, a trans woman of color wearing a bandana over her long, flowing black hair.
Elisha Walker. Facebook Image courtesy Violet Lewis.

Papi Edwards, 20. Trans woman of color. Murdered January 9, 2015.

Image shows Papi Edwards, a trans woman of color. She is wearing a sphaghetti strap top and has long, straight black hair.
Papi Edwards. Image via Feminist Activism.

Lamia Beard, 30. Trans woman of color. Murdered January 17, 2015.

Image shows Lamia Beard, a trans woman of color with long, wavy red hair, looking over her shoulder at the camera.
Lamia Beard, image via Facebook.

Ty Underwood, 24. Trans woman of color. Murdered January 26, 2015.

Image shows Ty Underwood, a trans woman of color, smiling into the camera. She is in a car, with her hair in an updo, wearing a red shirt.
Ty Underwood. Image via the Advocate.

Yazmin Vash Payne, 33. Trans woman of color. Murdered January 31, 2015.

Image shows Yazmin Vash Payne, a trans woman of color, in a rose frame. She is wearing large rhinestone hoop earrings and pale pink lipstick, and is gazing toward the bottom left. Caption says "Yazmin Vash Payne, 33. Stabbed to death in Los Angeles, Calif. January 31, 2015.
Yazmin Vash Payne. Image via The Advocate.

Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36. Trans woman of color. Murdered February 1, 2015.

Image shows Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, a light-skinned trans woman of color. She is wearing an electric blue shirt and gazing directly into the camera, her face framed by her shoulder-length light brown hair.
Taja Gabrielle DeJesus. Image via Bet.com

Penny Proud, 21. Trans woman of color. Murdered February 10, 2015.

Image shows Penny Proud, a trans woman of color. She is wearing a black shirt and silver necklace with a bow-shaped pendant.
Penny Proud. Image via Bet.com.

Bri Golec, 22. Genderqueer. Murdered February 13,2015.

Image shows Bri Golec, a genderqueer person who presents as female in this photo. They have long brown hair and are wearing a bandana.
Bri Golec. Image via Jezebel.

Kristina Grant Infiniti, 46. Trans woman. Murdered February 15, 2015.

Image shows Kristina Grant Infiniti, a white trans woman with bright red hair and blue eyes.
Kristina Grant Infiniti. Image via Miami New Times.

Keyshia Blige, 33. Trans woman of color. Murdered March 7, 2015.

Image shows Keyshia Blige, a trans woman of color, wearing a white top with black vine-like patterns. She is wearing dark pink lipstick and has short, wavy black hair that just touches her shoulder.
Keyshia Blige. Image via The Guardian.

Mya Hall, 27. Trans woman of color. Murdered by police March 30, 2015.

Image shows Mya Hall, a trans woman of color with short, wavy black hair and hearts tattooed under the corners of her eyes. She is wearing gold hoop earrings and has a piercing at one corner of her mouth.
Mya Hall. Image via Feminist Activism.

London Kiki Chanel, 21. Trans woman of color. Murdered May 18, 2015.

Image shows London Kiki Chanel, a trans woman of color. She is wearing a blue plaid shirt and large tear-drop shaped gold earrings. She has a somber expression as she stares into the camera.
London Kiki Chanel. Image via NY Daily News.

Mercedes Williamson, 17. Trans woman. Murdered May 30, 2015.

Image shows Mercedes Williamson, a white trans woman, wearing purple and gazing into the camera. Image is rotated 45 degrees.
Mercedes Williamson. Image via Autostraddle.

Jasmine Collins, 32. Trans woman of color. Murdered June 23, 2015.

Image is an illustration of a bunch of jasmine flowers in white and pink. There is a red butterfly perched on the topmost flower in the bunch.
Jasmine flowers. Image courtesy
Swallowtail Garden Seeds (CC BY 2.0)

Ashton O’Hara, 25. Genderfluid person of color. Murdered July 14, 2015.

Image shows Ashton O'Hara, presenting as female in this photo. He is wearing a rainbow-hued crop top and has gold hoop earrings with long black hair. O'Hara was using male pronouns at the time of his death.
Ashton O’Hara. Image via Autostraddle.

India Clarke, 25. Trans woman of color. Murdered July 21, 2015.

Image shows India Clarke, a trans woman of color, wearing a pink and yellow striped tank top and electric blue shrug.
India Clarke. Image via New York Daily News.

K.c. Haggard, 66. Trans woman. Murdered July 21, 2015.

Image is long white petals slightly out of focus against a blue background. A water droplet is in perfect focus on one of the petals.
Public domain image courtesy Pixabay.

Shade Schuler, 22. Trans woman of color. Murder date unknown: body found July 29, 2015.

Image shows Shade Schuler, a trans woman of color, taking a selfie in a bathroom mirror. She is wearing a black dress with a fur stole, and has several long strands of pearls.
Shade Schuler. Image via National Center for Transgender Equality.

Amber Monroe, 20. Trans woman of color. Murdered August 8, 2015.

Image shows Amber Monroe, a trans woman of color. She is wearing a white long-sleeved tee shirt and a short denim vest. She has very long, shiny smooth black hair.
Amber Monroe. Image via the Independent UK.

Kandis Capri, 35. Trans woman of color. Murdered August 11, 2015. (CW: link deadnames her; family is using male pronouns, but the article corrects them to Kandis’s preferred pronouns.)

Image shows Kandis Capri, a trans woman of color, with blonde hair shading to dark brown at the bottom. She is done up for a glamour shot, wearing a v-shaped rhinestone necklace, and casting a sultry gaze over her left shoulder.
Kandis Capri. Image via ABC 15.

Tamara Dominquez, 36. Trans woman of color. Murdered August 15, 2015.

Image shows Tamara Dominquez, a trans woman of color wearing a red dress with large blue roses, and gold hoop earrings.
Tamara Dominquez. Image via KCTV5.

Keisha Jenkins, 22. Trans woman of color. Murdered October 6, 2015.

Image shows Keisha Jenkins, a trans woman of color. She has a beehive do with a wide white streak.
Keisha Jenkins. Image via Metro News UK.

Zella Ziona, 21. Trans woman of color. Murdered October 15, 2015.

Image shows Zella Ziona, a trans woman of color with pale brown wavy hair. She is wearing bright pink lipstick, a chunky gold chain necklace, and a gold hoop nose ring.
Zella Ziona. Image via The Root.

Say their names.

I’ve included only United States trans folk on this list, but the murders happen worldwide. This is a crisis, and it’s up to us to stop it. Help us make this a world where people are no longer murdered for being transgender.

Image shows photos of dozens of trans people murdered worldwide in 2015. Caption says Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015, Lexie Cannes State of Trans
Update: It’s more than murder that kills trans people. Family rejection, medical neglect, social stigma, and other forms of prejudice combine to end beautiful lives. I’ll add the names of those killed as they come in.

Erin Vernon, 21. Trans woman. Died of medical neglect on September 3rd, 2015.

Image shows Erin Vernon, a young trans woman with curly blonde hair and blue eyes.
Erin Vernon from Facebook.

 

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Say Their Names: Murders of Trans People Skyrocket in 2015

8 thoughts on “Say Their Names: Murders of Trans People Skyrocket in 2015

  1. AMM
    1

    I suspect that it’s not so much that the rate of trans people being murdered has skyrocketted as that we’re finding out about more of them. All my life I’ve heard whispered mentions of “transvestite prostitutes,” so I know that trans people (many of them WOC) have been around, and been treated like perverts and refuse whose disappearance was hardly worth taking note of (at least, not by anybody who counted.) I’m not sure when groups sprang up to keep track of trans murders, but I know they weren’t around 20 years ago.
    .
    (Somewhat OT:)

    I want to say how much I appreciate all the people standing up for and accepting trans people these days. I’m not a brave person, so despite having had those indescribable feelings of alienation all my life, it was only recently that I was able to consider the possibility that they meant I was trans. (Despite my being pretty much on the stop of the privilege pyramid in every other way.) For all of the transphobia that still exists, it is so much better than it was even 20 years ago, even 10. Yes, we have our Leelah Alcorns, but we also have our Jazz Jennings. We have our Zella Zionis, but we also have our LaVerne Coxes. 50 years ago, when I was their age, Leelah would have been silently buried under her deadname with a whispered “perhaps it is all for the best” and her name would have died with her. Jazz would have been subjected to the usual abusive treatments society and especially the psychiatric profession used to cure “deviants” and grown up to be an emotional cripple, if she’d survived to adulthood at all. Yes, we have Pope Bergoglio and Michelle Duggar and the whole Republican presidential clown car insisting we aren’t human, but we also have more and more people standing up for us. This gives me hope, if not for me, then for those of our children’s and grandchildren’s generation.

  2. 4

    Dana:
    Good post, and I’m glad you found several images to put faces to the names. I hope that will help some people view these trans women genderfluid folks as human beings who had their lives horrifically and tragically cut short.

  3. 5

    I want to throw in that Erin Vernon, a woman local to my area, died because the hospital that she went to insisted that she was overdosing on drugs, and she died of gas gangrene because they refused to check her thoroughly or treat her. It’s murder by medical neglect, and it is probably very common for trans people and particularly for trans women.

    Thank you so much.

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