Seeking justice: Transgender community on edge in the midst of violence

GALILEE ABDULLAH | 6/16/2019, 5:24 p.m.
In late May, hundreds of mourners packed a church in the heart of the Dallas LGBTQ community to remember the ...
Muhlaysia Booker Facebook


(The Texas Tribune) – In late May, hundreds of mourners packed a church in the heart of the Dallas LGBTQ community to remember the life of Muhlaysia Booker. The Black transgender 22-year-old woman was shot and killed last month, her body found on a street in far East Dallas.

Her death came just a month after she was brutally beaten in an incident that was captured on cellphone video that went viral on social media.

Those who knew Booker said she was unapologetic about being transgender – about being herself.

Jazmine Bandz, a Black trans woman who was close to Booker, had a message for those who gathered.

“I just ask our community, whether it’s the Black community, the human community, the aliens, and whoever else is here,” she said as the crowd laughed. “If you see somebody trans, do not make it hard for them, because we already live a life full of pain.”

Booker’s death is just one of a string of killings and violent attacks on Black transgender women in Dallas.

Last fall, 29-year-old Brittany White was found shot to death in a car in southeast Dallas. And on June 1, the body of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey was pulled from White Rock Lake.

They join a list of other transgender women who have been killed in North Texas in years past. Many of these cases are still open.

In 2013, 34-year-old Artegus Madden was found shot in her home in Savaannah, a small town east of Denton. In 2015, 22-year-old Shade Schuler was found shot to death.

Transgender people in Dallas said this violence is scary, but they’re trying not to live in fear. Naomi Green, a Black transgender woman, helped lead the support effort for Booker following the filmed attack in April.

“Silence is agreeance,” Green said. “I’m always outspoken and speaking the truth. I don’t fear what can come of all of this. I continue to live my life every day.”

Dallas police said they were looking into possible connections between the recent killings, as well as a nonfatal stabbing of a 26-year-old transgender woman in April.

At a press conference this week, DPD chief U. Renee Hall said the department reached out to the FBI and is asking the community to come forward with any information.

Bandz, who spoke at Booker’s funeral, asked Hall at the conference about the recent violence. “What are we going to do to ... stop the violence against people like me?”

Hall answered, “That’s our goal: to provide safety to each and every person in the community.”

Violence against transgender people has been happening across the country in recent months. The Human Rights Campaign is referring to this violence as a national crisis. In April in Ohio, 21-year-old Claire Legato, a Black transgender woman, was shot in the head and died from her injuries. In Philadelphia, 40-year-old Michelle “Tamika” Washington, also a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in May.

Nationwide, at least seven transgender people have been killed this year — and all were Black trans women, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Over the last several years, over three-quarters of transgender people killed were Black trans women.