Amber Monroe Becomes the 12th TWOC Murdered in the US This Year, We Must #SayHerName

(Ed. Note: Sources are telling us that K.C. Haggard was white and should not be counted among the twoc who have been murdered. Still, that makes 11 out of the 12 trans women murdered up to this point twoc.)

Early this morning in Detroit, Amber Monroe, a Black trans woman, became the 12th trans woman of color murdered in the US this year. Monroe was just 20 years old.

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Few details are available right now, but I talked to Cherno Biko, a trans rights advocate who has been talking to friends of Monroe and other people on the ground in Detroit. Biko told me that Amber “was 20 years old and full of life and such a fighter. This was actually her third time being shot, but she wasn’t comfortable going to the police the first two times because of the relationship Black trans women in Detriot have with the police.” This broken relationship is shown in Dream Hampton’s documentary Treasure, about 19-year-old trans woman of color Shelly “Treasure” Hilliard, who was brutally murdered after working with the police in Detroit.

These past two weeks have started to seem frighteningly similar to the first two months of the year when a trans woman of color was murdered every week. Since July 22, just 17 days ago, three trans women of color have been murdered. When I talked to Biko, she told me that she was scared, that it felt like she could be next. She said that “after the first eight weeks, we hit the ground running and we launched all these campaigns” aimed at bringing awareness to the violence that twoc face, and that things looked hopeful. Then “something happened this summer with India Clarke. In the last two weeks, we’ve had three (murders)… we have to do something to stop this because it’s only going to get worse.”

As Janet Mock said: “The names of our sisters shouldn’t only make headlines when we walk a red carpet or lay in a casket.” But that’s what seems to be happening. If you glance at trans women in the media, it may seem like we’re being embraced. Biko told me that if you actually take a closer look, it really seems like they just want to “worship you or (want you) dead, so that they can save you or fund raise off of your legacy.” Trans women of color are constantly asking for donations or help or places to sleep in posts on Tumblr, and usually barely receive any attention. Trans women of color often try to get money for films or books or other projects and are barely able to raise half the money that they need. Yet stories of their murders go viral. It’s long past time that trans women of color’s lives were valued while they are still happening.

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The full list of trans women of color murdered this year, at least as far as we know, includes Monroe, 20; Mercedes Williamson, 17; India Clarke, 25; K.C. Haggard, 66; Papi Edwards, 20; Lamia Beard, 30; Ty Underwood, 24; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33; Taja de Jesus, 36; Penny Proud, 21; Kristina Grant Infiniti, 47; and London Kiki Chanel, 21. What makes this even more shocking is that if you look at the ages of the Black trans women who have been murdered, most of them weren’t even past their mid-twenties.

There are two other deaths that could well be counted among the list of trans women murdered this year, that of 22 year old Bri Golec, whose friends have given mixed reports about whether or not she was trans, and Mya Hall, another Black trans woman who was fatally shot by NSA security forces after she and another trans woman tried to drive their car through a security cordon around Fort Meade. According to Hall’s friends, she was struggling with mental illness but could not afford to get any treatment. Police reports have also been unclear as to why exactly her vehicle was fired upon, when many people regularly accidentally turn into the area where she did.

We need to get out Amber Monroe’s name and images of her that show who she really was as soon as we can. So often the mainstream media will misgender and slander twoc in death, using mug shots and birth names, wrong pronouns and “reasons” for their murders, such as sex work, homelessness and drug use. As Cherno Biko told me, now “it’s less about individual girls and more about culture and society as this has happened 12 times this year alone.” Large parts of society still don’t seem to care about trans women of color or even view us as human beings.

“We make more sense dead than alive,” Biko told me. “This is the culture that we are dealing with, not just in Detroit or the mid-west, but in all of America.”


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Mey is a bisxual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. Her areas of expertise include comic books, witches, trans issues and pop culture. She has an English Degree, a cat named Sawyer, a twitter that she uses a lot and a tumblr that she only uses occasionally.

Mey has written 465 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. 0

    #blacklivesmatter? #blacktranslivesmatter?

    How can this not be obvious? How can people feel justified beating and killing people different from themselves? How can we hope to change minds so twisted, so hate-filled?

    Life is hard enough for those who don’t follow the typical path … I’m sorry so many see stories like this as both a tragedy for the victim and a very personal threat.

    Watch yourselves, and watch over each other.

  2. 0

    “Yet stories of their murders go viral”

    I am just sad and disgusted how true that quote is.
    These murders keep on happening, and still I can never understand how someone could have that much hatred for another. What is so threatening about trans women of color? That they want to live their truth?
    Thank you for sharing this, Mey.

  3. 0

    Is there any more information on this? Like where in the city, who she lived with, family friends. Are there any suspects? Maybe we could have some kind of action. But I think we need to find out more about what happened

  4. 0

    That last quote is haunting and yet seems to be the way this country thinks about trans woc. The fact that Amber had been shot two times previously but hadn’t felt comfortable going to the police about it is just about the saddest and most damning thing I’ve ever heard in regards to transmisogyny and race relations in the US. These are our sisters. Our people. This is our country, and people with privilege and power refuse to take responsibility for this. I honestly don’t know what to say.

    • 0

      It’s truly awful. Since my transition I’ve been afraid of having to have any interaction with the police, and I’m a middle class white girl. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for our sisters without that privilege. I just don’t understand how people can be so horrible to other human beings.

  5. 0

    So depressing. One slight correction: I obviously could be wrong, but it was my understanding that K.C. Haggard was a white trans woman. If you have reason to believe the contrary, mea culpa. In any case, all these deaths were tragedies. (And in Haggard’s case, I haven’t seen anything to indicate that any progress is being made in finding the people who assassinated her.)

  6. 0

    Transgender women have enough going on with ignorant people in this society, now they have a target on them. I am a 50 yr. old male who just cares about people in general, I get more confused every day about the mindset of this country, don’t we all have enough to worry about with ourselves. Just accept people for who they are not what they are.

  7. 0

    Just a possible clarification, and not to downplay the horrible disparity in violence that TWOC face, and maybe I am wrong as you likely researched this, but from my documentation I believe it’s 12 murders of transwomen *in total* so far this year.

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