Transgender Day of Remembrance: Twenty-Four Names, Twenty-Four Lives

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Sunday, Nov. 20 2016 marks the 18th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a part of transgender awareness week. The day marks a period of reflection on trans lives lost to violence over the past year. The day serves not just for mourning, but to examine the attitudes and policies that most affect and in some cases marginalize trans lives, and the lives of people of color every day.

The 2014 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-affected Hate Violence Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects showed that, of murder victims

80% were people of color

55% were transgender women

50% were transgender women of color

The report found that trans women “who experienced hate violence were also more likely to experience police violence, physical violence, discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, threats, and intimidation compared to those who were not transgender women.”

'Injustice at Every Turn,' a report conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National LGBTQ Task Force showed more than 6,000 transgender participants experienced violence or harassment across a range of settings including “educational settings, at work, in interactions with police and with family members, at homeless shelters, accessing public accommodations, and in jails and prisons.”

The following memorial features those who were lost due to incidents of violence in the U.S. as was reported to local police and media outlets, and from online resources such as the Advocate.  Some details may be subject to change as investigations and trials continue.

 

Monica Loera, 43, Austin, TX

Monica Loera, a Latina transgender woman from North Austin, Texas, was fatally shot January 22. A suspect has been arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Monica like many, was initially misgendered in police and local news reports and identified by her assigned name, a practice called out by activists as “deadnaming.” Many within Monica’s own community were not at first aware of her death, reported the Austin Chronicle.

“I heard from people in the neighborhood, once they saw real pictures of Monica, that they knew who she was," said Greg Casar, an Austin City Council member.  "But before thought that the person who was killed was someone they didn't know. And I think that's important. All of a sudden, people who live nearby, said, 'Gosh, that was Monica.' Even if they didn't know her as a close friend, a lot of people in the community had at least shopped in the same stores, walked down the same streets, and lived by the same park."

A friend of Monica’s, Brenda Rodriguez, told the Chronicle Monica was someone who looked out for other women and that she loved to dress up. “She was funny, [and] beautiful,” Rodriguez said. "... She loved Madonna, and she loved to cook."

Related Stories:

Remembering Monica Loera, Austin Chronicle

Justice Down to the Pronoun, Austin Chronicle

 

Jasmine Sierra, 52, Bakersfield, CA

Jasmine Sierra, a Latina transgender woman from Bakersfield, California, was found dead on January 22. a cause of death has yet to be determined and no suspects have been identified.  Although Jasmine’s body was discovered in January, she was not identified as Jasmine Sierra by police and local media until March.

“Her name is Jasmine Sierra” her friend Shantell Waldo told Planet Transgender. “And she was a wonderful woman who I have known for about eight years. When I first met her she had lost a shared home, and had a very hard time getting back on her feet and into housing. She had never legally changed her name, and was afraid to because she had been arrested before and was petrified of the legal system. She found a complex that would rent to her and she stayed for a while, but left because she was being harassed, and her apartment was broken into.

“She never had any support from her family,” Waldo said. “Another friend of hers told me a story about Jasmine going to her mother’s home to bring her flowers. They had both been at the house for about 15 minutes before the mother called her by her dead name and said that she had already been there too long. Like so many she had survived, on her own, and with few trusted friends in her life…Jasmine was a beautiful human being that did not deserve to have her life end like this.”

Related Stories:

Bakersfield Transwoman Murder Unknown due to Deadname, Planet Transgender

Vigil Held for Jasmine Sierra Who Died in January but was Misgendered when Identified, ABC 23

 

Kayden Clarke, 24, Mesa, AZ

On February 4, Mesa police responded to calls from friends of Kayden Clarke’s saying that he was suicidal, the Arizona Republic reported. Police reports state that after entering his home, Kayden lunged towards them with a knife, which led the police to fire. The two officers, unidentified, were placed on administrative leave while Mesa detectives investigated. Officers were not wearing body cameras, and police did not disclose how many shots were fired.

Kayden Clarke, an autistic transman living in Arizona, was known for a series of YouTube videos detailing both his struggle with Asperger’s and with transitioning.  One of Kayden’s videos went viral in 2015. The video is of Kayden’s dog comforting him during what Kaden described to the Huffington Post as a “meltdown,” times during which he was prone to self-harm.

Kayden described having ADHD, and PTSD and depression related to his gender identity and complications in transitioning.

"He was frustrated that no matter what therapist he saw, no one understood and neglected his desire for health and happiness," Kae Glenn, a friend of Clarke's, wrote to the Republic.

"He was stressed about life. His future. His gender. Discrimination at work and online. There was a lot of hate aimed towards him. He suffered drastically ... not because of just his body, but because of social media and his social situation," Glenn said.

Clarke’s death also marks a period of exceptional tension regarding police tactics, use of force, and treatment of people with disabilities or mental illness.

“Before the police arrived [he] wasn’t posing a threat to the community at all,” Clarke’s mother told the New York Daily News. “And the police came into [his] own place. They shot and killed a 24-year-old autistic, mentally ill individual whom they had been familiar with and aware of [his] special needs.”

Related stories:

Dog Helps Owner who has Asperger's Attack with Amazing Results, YouTube

Mesa Transgender Man from Viral Asperger's Meltdown Video Killed by Police, Arizona Republic

Police Kill Kayden Clarke, a Transgender man with Asperger’s who was Suicidal, Slate.com

 

Veronica Banks Cano, 30s, San Antonio, TX

Veronica Banks Cano, Latina transgender woman was found dead at a motel on the South Side of San Antonio the morning of February 19, according to KABB-TV News.  Veronica was found fully clothed, in a bathtub with water. There were no signs of trauma. No arrests have been made.

Cano was from Pleasanton Texas. Joe Mendez, told Out in San Antonio that the two had attended high school and nursing school together and had been roommates before Cano moved to San Antonio in 2012. Mendez said that Cano was “loved and accepted by many in our small community.” She had worked as a certified nurse’s assistant at a nursing home in Pleasanton.

In his Facebook tribute Mendez wrote, “What can I say . . . you were true to yourself, never a dull moment . . . Putting on your makeup and modeling your outfits. That’s how I’ll remember you.”

An anonymous friend posted “Found out my friend passed away yesterday. I hope this injustice weighs heavy on the conscience of whoever caused you harm. Veronica, you were a good friend to me when I was the new girl in town and I will miss you forever amiga.”

Related Stories:

Local Woman found Dead in Bathtub at South Side Motel, Fox San Antonio

Transgender Woman Found Dead in Motel, Out In USA

 

Maya Young, 25, Frankford, PA

Maya Young, a Black transgender woman from Frankford, Pennsylvania, was fatally stabbed on February 21. Two suspects have been arrested. Maya was the third known transgender woman of color killed in Philadelphia over the course of a year, after Kiesha Jenkins 22, in October 2015, and London Kiki Chanel in May 2015.

"She looked like chocolate and caramel," Anthony Harper, a longtime friend and former roommate of Maya’s told the Philadelphia Inquirer. – One side of Maya’s face was lighter than the other. -- Harper called her "Twix.” "She was sweet, like candy," he said. The two had met five years earlier when Maya stopped to ask him the time. "I noticed the birthmark on her face and I told her it was beautiful." Later they became roommates in West Philadelphia, Harper said.

Harper told the Inquirer Maya loved music, video games, and playing Magic: The Gathering.

Naiymah Sanchez, a coordinator with the TransHealth Information Project in Philadelphia, wrote on Facebook that some friends were posting about Young "saying 'Finally Free.' “It's so sad that we feel death is freedom," she wrote. "It's sad to say it's becoming the norm and even harder as a transgender woman to wake up every day with fearing someone may ultimately feel they want to take our life."

Related Stories:

Transgender Woman Stabbed to Death in Frankford, NBC Philadelphia

Transgender Community Mourns another Philly Slaying, the Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Demarkis Stansberry, 30, Baton Rouge, LA

Demarkis, a Black transgender man from Baton Rouge, La., was fatally shot on February 28. An acquaintance confessed to shooting Stansberry, and was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, according to the Advocate, a Baton Rouge-based newspaper.

The day after the accident which cost Demarkis Stansberry his life, Mitch Kellaway, a former contributor to gay news site, Advocate, tweeted about Demarkis’ death:

#DemarkisStansberry So easy to just remember his murder. He was more. He was a man who worked 2 jobs, loved his fiancee, his dog, & rapping.

Demarkis fiancée and girlfriend of four years Myesha Brown, identified Demarkis to police and reporters, but Demarkis was identified by his assigned gender and name in initial reports.

Related Stories:

Baton Rouge Man Accidentally Shoots, Kills Friend… the Advocate, Baton Rouge

Black Trans Man Demarkis Stansberry Killed in Louisiana, Advocate.com

 

Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, 16, Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Register reported that police found Kedarie’s body on March 2. They had been shot several times and left in an alley. The case is under investigation and no suspects have been arrested, but police told the Register that they believe Kedarie knew their attackers.

Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson was a junior at Burlington High School in Iowa. They identified as gender-fluid, and transgender using both names intermittently.

Police told the Register that there was no evidence to suggest a hate crime, but Johnson’s mother Katrina, does believe that Kedarie’s gender identity played a role.

Laci Johnson, a Burlington High School teacher was one of many locals who attended Kedarie’s memorial service.

“You would never know what he would do or say. Sometimes it would be shockingly inappropriate, and sometimes, it would be something that would just melt your heart,” Johnson said.

Kedarie was known for their over the top fashion, joyful dancing, and generous heart.

“When God made Kedarie, he knew this boy would need a little extra sass to get by in this world,” said Kedarie’s friend Mona Ash. “He was one of the most resilient kids I ever met.”

“He was a bright spot of sunshine, and the world is a little darker now. I absolutely loved that kid,” Ash said.

Related Stories:

Slain Burlington Teen Remembered for Style and Dance, Des Moines Register

Kedarie Johnson Murder Not Random, Des Moines Register

 

Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum (Kourtney Yochum), 32, Los Angeles, CA

Quartney, a transgender woman of color, was fatally shot March 23 outside her Los Angeles apartment complex in what appeared to be a dispute with her former boyfriend. Police have arrested one suspect, with investigations into additional suspects.

At a vigil for Kourtney, neighbor Mariana Vazquez told the LA Times, “Her boyfriend would follow her around, even come in the building sometime," said Vasquez, who lived in the apartment complex. "I didn't know her real well because she was a 'hi and bye' kind of girl. But people had seen him before and you could just tell it wasn't healthy. I wish someone would have said something."

Yochum’s neighbor, Amoretta Buchanan told the Times, "She was just so cute. She would always strike a pose when she said hello," said Buchanan, imitating Yochum. "She really went out of her way to keep to herself. Not everybody understood her, and she knew that could be trouble. But those who got to know her, she was such a good person."

Related Stories:

Los Angeles Trans Woman of Color Killed on Skid Row, Advocate.com

Transgender Woman is Fatally Shot on Skid Row, LA Times

 

Shante Isaac/Thompson* 34, Houston, TX

Shante Thompson, a Black transgender woman from Houston, Texas, was beaten and shot to death by a group of assailants on April 11. The group also killed a man walking with Thompson. Police have arrested one suspect, a second suspect has been charged, with investigations into additional suspects.

Leola Thompson, Shante’s mother, was on the phone with her when Shante said she was being chased.

“All I heard [her] say was, 'There they go, there they go,' and I was trying to get [her] back on the phone to ask him what was going on and he was just saying, 'Bye mama, bye mama -- I got to go,'” Thompson told Fox 26, Houston. "[Her] friend came knocking on the door and told me I need to come downtown because she was dead.”

Thompson, who refers to Shante by male and female pronouns in interviews, said that Shante was being harassed before her murder.

"They were bothering him. They kept on picking on him," said Thompson, "He was telling me that for a long time, they have been bothering him and bothering him. I've been trying to keep him down from this way," Thompson told CBS, KHOU.

"The rhetoric is fueling an atmosphere of hate in Houston and Texas and across the country that is causing innocent Texans to be beaten and killed," said Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas, an Austin-based advocacy group. "This rhetoric is unacceptable and has real consequences for real Texans who are victims of hate crimes." Said Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas.

In particular, the 2015 repeal of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, passed in 2014 which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other traits in regard to employment, housing, and public accommodation, has contributed to tensions in the area.

Related Stories:

Police Investigate Midtown Houston Homicides of Two People, Fox 26

Arrest in Double Murder of Texas Man, Transgender Woman, CBS News

 

Keyonna Blakeney, 22, Montgomery County, MD

Keyonna, a Black transgender woman from Montgomery County, Maryland, was killed April 16. Two men were arrested for Keyonna’s murder in what was described as a planned robbery.

Keyonna Blakeney split her time between her father’s house in DC and her mother’s house in prince George’s county, Keyonna’s sister Jasmine told the Washington Post. Twenty-two-year-old Keyonna had just rented an apartment and planned to move in at month’s end, Jasmine said.

“Someone out there is evil who did this,” Keyonna’s father, Kenny Linton, said in an interview, describing her as special, kindhearted, down to earth and generous to a fault.

Related Stories:

Weekend Homicide Victim in Montgomery was Transgender Female

Court Date Set for Men Arrested in Keyonna Blakeney Murder, Metro Weekly

2nd Suspect in Transgender Killing says He was at Scene but did not Stab Anyone, Washington Post

 

Reecey Walker, 32, Wichita, KS

Reecey Walker, a Black transgender woman from Wichita, Kansas, was fatally stabbed May 1. A 16-year-old boy was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

“[She] wanted to get a degree in psychology or social work to try to become a counselor to help other people try to get through some of the same struggles [she] had been through," Reecey’s friend, identified only as Victoria, told ABC affiliate KAKE, Wichita.

"She said a lot of people at the apartment complex or even around Wichita were constantly harassing her and just messing with her including leaving stuff by her front door," Victoria told KAKE. “When I left on Wednesday, she was super excited happy and hopping around and very, very positive. To wake up this morning and know that that was taken from her is the worst news I could have possibly got."

Related Stories:

Transgender Woman Killed in Wichita, Advocate.com

 

Mercedes Successful, 32, Haines City, FL

Mercedes, a Black transgender woman from Haines City, Fla., was fatally shot May 15. Police have not identified a suspect or a motive.

Originally from Kingston Jamaica. Mercedes Successful represented her home country in the 2014 Gay Caribbean USA Pageant.

"It is extremely sad that other humans can be so dreadful and take another human's life so easily. R.I.P Mercedes Successful," wrote the Gay Caribbean organization.

 Mercedes was also an active member of the drag and pageant communities around her home of Haines City Florida, the Ledger reported.

"My sis just started transitioning a month and a half ago," Damii DeSouza worte in a Facebook tribute. "She was really ready and looking forward to living her life full time as Mercedes Successful."

Related Stories:

Mercedes Successful Becomes 12th Transperson Killed in 2016, Advocate.com

Haines City Police Department Releases new Details about Homicide, the Ledger

 

Amos Beede, 38, Burlington, VT

Amos Beede, a transgender man from Milton, Vermont, died from his injuries after he was attacked at a homeless encampment in Burlington. Five people have been arrested in connection with Beede’s death. The investigation is ongoing.

"You know when a person comes into a space and people are happy to see him? That was Amos in our space," Kim Fountain, executive director of the Vermont Pride Center told the Burlington Free Press. Amos had started visiting the Pride Center to see friends over the last year.

Matt Young, coordinator of the Howard Center Street Outreach Team told the Press that Amos, was a talented artist, and created drawings, posters, T-shirts and more for the outreach team. Amos was well connected with and active in the different homeless communities and outreach centers in the area.

Amos’s wife, mother, and sister all appeared in court during the arraignment of his attackers.

"It hurts that these five people could do this," Beede's sister Ina McKinney said. "A big part of our heart just got ripped away, and that's something we'll have to live with for the rest of our lives."

Related Stories:

Burlington Community Mourns Amos Beed's Death, Burlington Free Press

Woman Denies Murder Charge in Amos Beede Slaying

 

“Goddess” Diamond, 20, New Orleans, LA

Diamond, of New Orleans, was found dead of blunt force trauma in a burned car on June 5. No suspects have been identified.

Reports of Diamond’s death identified her by her assigned name and gender for four days before writer and black trans woman, Venus Selente, called attention to Diamond’s transgender status on twitter. Venus gave Diamond the name "Goddess" so she wouldn’t have to be remembered with her birth name.

Diamond's mother, Antoinette, told the New Orleans Advocate that no one had heard from Diamond since she borrowed a car from a friend that evening to go to a party. Antoinette described Diamond as kind, loving, and having a big heart.

Related Stories:

Trans Woman killed in New Orleans, Police Considering Hate Crime, Advocate.com

Victim Found in Burned Car in New Orleans Died of Blunt Force Trauma, the Advocate, New Orleans

 

Deeniquia Dodds, 22, Washington DC

Deeniquia Dodds, a transgender woman of color, was shot on July 4 in Northeast Washington, D.C. She passed away on July 13 after 10 days on life support. No witnesses have come forward, and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. Information can also be submitted anonymously by sending a text message to 50411. A reward of as much as $25,000 is offered.

Deeniquia’s friends called her Dee Dee. Joanne Lewis raised Dee Dee and described her as “a beautiful person”  NBC Washington reported. "Loved to make you laugh. Loved to make you smile," she said. "Whoever did it, I hope that justice be done to them."

Dee Dee was involved with Casa Ruby, a D.C. LGBT organization. Founder Ruby Coronado told Mic, "Deeniquia was part of the Casa Ruby family, and she is gone, but not forgotten. Her death will not be in vain…People in leadership need to address the employment barriers that keeps trans women of color from accessing the resources they need to grow healthy and thrive."

Related Stories:

Deeniquia Dodds, Transgender Woman, Dead after being Shot in Washington DC, Mic.com

Transgender Woman, Deeniquia Dodds, Dies after being Shot in DC, NBC Washington

 

Dee Whigham, 23, St. Martin, MS

Dee Whigham, a trans woman of color, was killed on July 23 in a St. Martin, Mississippi hotel. A suspect was identified through security camera footage and arrested.

Dee had come to St. Martin with friends and coworkers to see the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, the Sun Herald reported.

Dee was a registered nurse at a hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The hospital's CEO spoke fondly of the young woman in a statement to the Sun Herald.

"She will be remembered at Forrest Health as an excellent nurse who was well-loved by her patients," said Forrest Health CEO Evan Dillary. "I know Dee will be missed by her co-workers, supervisors, and the Forrest Health family."

Related Stories:

St. Martin Homicide Victim was Transgender Woman, Sun Herald

Mississippi Nurse Dee Whigham Becomes 16th Trans Person Murdered in 2016, Advocate.com

 

Skye Mockabee, 26, Cleveland, OH

Skye Mockabee, a transgender woman of color, was found dead in Cleveland, Ohio, Aug. 1. First responders described Mockabee’s injuries as suspicious, later county medical examiners ruled the death an accident. A spokeswoman told the Cleveland Plains Dealer the investigation is ongoing.

Skye’s boyfriend told the Cleveland Plains Dealer that Skye had gone out with a man she had met online July 31, and stopped responding to text messages about 1:30 a.m. the next morning. Skye's mother, Phyllis Carlock said Skye texted her around 3:30 a.m. and said that she loved her and the two would always be together.

Skye, a Lincoln-West High School graduate, was the fourth transgender woman of color to die under suspicious circumstance in Cuyahoga County over the last four years. The other three were Brittany Stergis, Betty Skinner, and Cemia, “CeCe” Dove. Arrests were made in two of the other three cases.

Related Stories:

Transgender Woman Found Dead in Cleveland Parking Lot, Cleveland Plains Dealer

Cleveland Transgender Woman Found Dead in Parking Lot Died of Drug overdose, Authorities Say

 

Erykah Tijerina, 36, El Paso, TX

Erykah Tijerina, a Latina transgender woman, was found dead in her El Paso, Texas, apartment on August 8, KFOX reported. Police ruled Erykah’s death as a homicide but not a hate crime. An arrest was made.

Erykah’s two sisters told KFOX they believed Eryka may have been targeted because of her gender identity. The sisters say Erykah was funny, giving and unapologetic about the person she was.

“She’s the one that told me to stay strong and not care,” Pearl Tijerina said.

Nell Gaither, president of the Trans Pride Initiative in Dallas, said in a statement

"Trans Pride Initiative would like to encourage all community and accomplices to raise our collective voices against not just the media and police misidentification, but also the broad state-sponsored stigma that is growing in Texas and elsewhere, which fuels bias that exacerbates bullying in our schools, refusal of social services, denial of employment and other life opportunities, and increases the many faces of violence with which our community is so familiar."

Related Stories:

Sisters say Murder Victim was Transgender, Fear Incident was a Hate Crime, KFOX14

Texas Army Soldier Arrested on Murder Charges for Stabbing Transgender Woman to Death, NY Daily News

 

Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28, Columbus, OH

Rae’Lynn Thomas, a Black transgender woman from Columbus, Ohio, was murdered the week of August 8. Rae’Lynn’s family reported witnessing her death at the hands of an ex-boyfriend of Rae’lynn’s mother who lived in the family home, WBNS reported.

Shannon Thomas told WBNS she will remember her niece as a performer, a fashionista, and the life of the party. "He took a light away from all of us," Thomas said of Rae’lynn’s killer.

While her family was accepting of her identity, her killer was open with his disapproval. Rae’lynn’s aunt and mother are calling her death a hate crime.  

"In my heart of hearts, I feel like that’s what it is," Shannon said. She also shared her desire to see Rae’lynn’s killer pay for his crime, saying "I want to see him go to jail forever."

Renee Thomas said the same. "Life in prison. Spend your life in prison. That’s what you do. I can’t spend my life with my [daughter] because you took [her] from me. I don’t want you to spend your life with your family."

The city of Columbus hate-crime laws does include crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation, but Ohio does not. Police are not investigating the homicide as a hate crime.

Related Stories:

Family of Columbus Woman killed Call it a Hate Crime, WBNS-10TV Columbus

 

T.T. Saffore, 20s, Chicago, IL

T.T. Saffore, A Black transgender woman, was found murdered in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood the evening of Sept. 11, the Windy City Times reported.

Jaliyah Armstrong, a friend of T.T.’s for the past seven years organized a vigil for T.T. on Sept. 12.

"T.T. was a lovely person," Jaliyah told the Windy City Times. "She was laughing all the time. You could be going through a bad day but once you saw [T.T.], she was such a happy cheerful person all that changed."

"Three days before [her death] she got into an altercation with a [trans] woman on Madison," Jaliyah said. "The girl pulled a knife on her and said 'I'm going to get you killed.'"

Jaliyah said T.T. did not report the incident to the Chicago Police Department, due to a prevalent fear of abuse toward transwomen from CPD officers.

"People don't know what we go through out here," Armstrong said. "They don't see the struggle being transgender on the West Side. It's crazy. I just want justice for my friend. Trans lives matter. She is the third person killed around here and there is nothing done about it."

Related Stories:

Trans Woman Murdered in Chicago, but Police Refuse to acknowledge Gender, Advocate.com 

Transgender Woman Found Slain on Chicago’s West Side, Windy City Media Group

 

Crystal Edmonds, 32, Baltimore, MD

Crystal Edmonds. a Black trans woman, was found in Forest Park Sept. 16, Baltimore police said. She was taken to a hospital, listed in grave condition, and died later in the morning, City Paper reported.

Police are investigating Crystal’s death as a homicide. They are offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for tips regarding the case. Anyone with information can call Metro Crime Stoppers, (866) 756-2587, or submit tips online at MetroCrimeStoppers.org.

Related Stories:

Transgender Woman Shot to Death, Police look for Clues, City Paper

 

Jazz Alford, 30, Birmingham, AL

Jazz Alford, a Black transgender woman was found shot to death at the Kings Inn in Birmingham, September 23. A suspect has been charged, AL.com reported but the investigation is ongoing.

Jazz was a native of High Point, North Carolina, and had transitioned five years ago. She helped her sister, Toya Milan, to transition as well.

"She was very educated and very beautiful,'' Toya said. "She was such a loving person and we didn't know anybody that would want to hurt her...it's been a hard pill to swallow.”

Jazz graduated from college in Florida and worked as a call center representative for an airline company.

"I'm still mourning of course, but I am so filled with joy right now because this monster is off of the streets and he can't harm anybody else." Toya told reporters.

"It's somebody's child he took the life from,'' Toya said. "They've got a special place for somebody like him."

Related Stories:

Man Charged in Murder of Transgender Woman at Burlington Hotel, AL.com

 

Brandi Bledsoe, 32, Cleveland, OH

Brandi, a 32-year-old transgender woman, was found behind a home on Cleveland’s East Side, Oct. 8.  Medical examiners report she died from a gunshot wound to her chest. No arrests have been made. After Skye Mockabee, Brandi’s death marks the fifth transgender woman killed in the Cleveland area since 2012.

After initial reports misgendered Brandi, her family came forward to say that she’d come out to them two years ago, a choice which took a weight off of her shoulders.

"She wasn't very outgoing before she told us," Brandi’s cousin John Craggett told The Plain Dealer. "She just wasn't happy with who she was. When she told us, she was honestly a lot better as Brandi. She was happy."

Brandi was an animation artist, and worked at Home Depot.

"She was really independent," John said. "A lot of opportunities opened up for her. She was looking for freedom."

Brandi had posted some pictures to Facebook, getting ready for a night on the town the evening of her murder.

“I had been teasing her about her red wig," said Brandi’s aunt, Angie Redding-Craggett, "and she went out and got another one. It was My L’il Pony bright lavender. (When I saw the photos) my plan was to send her a message and give her the hardest time,” she said.

“But I never got to do that.”

Related Stories:

Transgender Woman Found Dead in Cleveland with Plastic Bag around Head, Cleveland Plains Dealer

The Life and Death of Brandi Bledsoe, the 23rd Trans Woman Killed in 2016, TeleSurTV.net

 

Noony Norwood, 30, Richmond, VA

Noony Norwood, a trans woman of color in Richmond, Virginia, was shot on November 5 and taken to the hospital where she died of her injuries the next day. Police are investigating the case, and have released a photo of a person of interest.

Ms. Noony Norwood was accepted," said Janet Wright, Noony's aunt, NBC 12 reported.

"She was a wonderful person, and they took somebody great from us, seriously," she said.

"I just want people to know that, that was a beautiful person truly, would give you anything," explained Wright."Would help anybody without even a second thought."

Zakia McKensey, founder of Nationz Foundation, an LGBT organization in Richmond, also considered Noony family.

Zakia, last saw Noony about two weeks before her death, when she invited her to a meeting of a transgender support group at the foundation. She told GayRVA.com. “She used to call me “Mom’pie,” and so she said, ‘Mom’pie, I promise I’m coming.’ I told her to be safe and be careful,” McKensey said.

“It needs to be talked about,” said Zakia when asked about the deaths she and the trans community have experienced. “People ask me about the Black Lives Matter movement and why I understand why the movement was started and I’m concerned because I don’t feel like its inclusive of them all. I think about all the African American transgender women who have been victims of homicide and there’s no mention of them… you don’t hear anything about it.”

Related Stories:

Family seeks Justice for Transgender Woman Killed in Southside Shooting, NBC12

Friends Speak Out, Offer Support after Southside Trans Woman’s Murder, GayRVA.com

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is observed in late November in recognition of the 1998 murder of Rita Hester, an educator on transgender issues in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1999, Gwendolyn Ann Smith coordinated a vigil in Rita’s honor and for all those lost to anti-transgender violence.

For a listing of TDOR2016 events and other resources visit: TDOR.info

For resources on city, county, and state LGBT policies and plans of action, visit the National Center for Transgender Equality website at TransEquality.org

Trans Respect Versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) has also established The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project, which monitors, collects, and analyzes reports of homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people worldwide. Their reports and other resources can be found at TransRespect.org


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