Another Heartbreak: Somali-Canadian Trans Woman Sumaya Dalmar Found Dead in Toronto This Weekend

feature image via facebook

In what has already been a year of horrifying violence and tragedy for trans women of color, a young Somali-Canadian trans woman was lost this weekend in Toronto. Sumaya Dalmar, known also as Sumaya Ysl, was found dead on Sunday morning at the age of 26.

Details about her death remain sketchy, though it has been widely speculated across social media that it may have been homicide. Autostraddle spoke extensively with Toronto Police Media Relations Officer Constable Victor Kwong, who indicated that her death had not been ruled a homicide, but that the investigation remained open. Kwong also clarified that, because the matter did not readily appear to be a homicide and there appeared to be no immediate public safety concern, they could not share more details on the investigation due to privacy concerns. The Toronto Police tweeted earlier today that more details would be forthcoming, and Kwong confirmed that the department is working their LGBT liaison to update the community soon.

Friends of Sumaya made a statement through the facebook event for her memorial service, stating:

“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our dear friend and sister Sumaya. And yet, we are reminded by all the memories being shared by community members that her spirit will stay with us forever.
We understand that there is a lot of speculation surrounding the cause of Sumaya’s death. We want to make clear that the cause of death has not been verified. Rest assured, we are working diligently with the appropriate officials to confirm it.”

image via  facebook

image via facebook

Sumaya was a model and adult-film actress who was well-known in the Toronto LGBT community. Another Canadian adult model, Blair Ryder, who had worked with Sumaya spoke to us, saying Sumaya “was very strong, independent. A girl that people instantly noticed when she walked in the room.” Sumaya was also the subject of a 2014 art exhibit and documentary by fellow Somali-Canadian Abdi Osman called Labeeb, exploring the interplay of gender, trans identity, and traditional Somali culture. According to the exhibition announcement, She emigrated to Canada at the age of three, had trained in speech-therapy, and was very active in the local LGBT community. Osman spoke highly of her when contacted, saying, “she was a lovely soul and I considered her to be my little sister.”

We remain in contact with the Toronto Police, and will add updates as more information on this case becomes available.

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Mari Brighe

Mari is a queer lady scientist and educator from Detroit, who skillfully avoids working on her genetics dissertation by writing about queer and trans life, nerd culture, feminism, and science. You can frequently find her running around at science-fiction conventions giving panels on consent culture and LGBT topics or DJing at fantastically strange parties. She is a contributing writer for TransAdvocate, maintains a personal blog at TransNerdFeminist, and can frequently be found stirring up trouble (and posting selfies) on Twitter.

Mari has written 36 articles for us.


  1. I heard about this on Twitter the other night. And like I said on there, I feel it deeply in my heart each time we lose one of our trans sisters, but watching someone on Twitter react to the news that she had lost a friend was just awful. I’m lucky to have never lost a personal friend to this senseless violence, but every time I read about it happening to someone else, it actually makes me yearn for a community. I want to be surrounded by beautiful, amazing trans women because our lives are precious. So, even though I’m isolated where I currently live, to any trans women reading this, I love you all.

  2. WTF is going on?! Last year, a trans woman of color was shot to death and her body set on fire only a few miles away from where I live. That was really scary to learn. It wasn’t called a hate crime and, so far as I’ve ever heard, no one was arrested. The article did mention that she was “outspoken” and mentioned her having been arrested before. I didn’t know the girl, but I do know the area, and it is a high-crime area. It seems like while we have been gaining visibility lately, we have also become a target. I want to help others, but I cant risk giving myself up to do it. Not around here. Scary stuff.

    • Based on your racially ignorant comments on other articles, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’re white. So, don’t talk about how “we’ve become a target.” Like, no, it’s trans women of color (Black/Latin/ndn) that are the target. Not white trans women. Shhhhh. Stop appropriating and playing the victim when you’re not.

      • You’re a real class-act. You don’t know the first thing about me and your anger is blinding you. Good luck, ‘K’.

        • Nah, just pointing out how disrespectful it is for you to make these tragedies about yourself and people like you when it literally doesn’t have anything to do with you and erases like every statistic ever.
          But, I do know you have a history of commenting with REALLY racially ignorant/racist stuff which is a pretty damn white thing to do, so, you know. I call ’em how I see ’em.

  3. My heart is with Sumaya Dalmar’s loved ones. How many more TWOC have to die before people rise up and demand justice? Just heartbroken…

  4. Absolutely heartbreaking to know that these horrible tragedies can happen in my backyard too :( Shattering the idyllic idea that “maybe it’s not so bad in Canada” is a difficult shock.

  5. A Go Fund Me account has been set up to raise funds for Sumaya’s memorial service (to be held in Toronto on March 3) and a tree to be placed in a public park in her memory. Please donate here if you are able to do so:

    Also, could this link please be added at the bottom of the article itself? Thanks!

    • Its hard to see the faults of a dead person and i think we should let her rest in peace. However, i can’t understand why anyone who claims to have met her like myself did not see mention the identity crisis she suffered and the hate and division she preached among her trans friends. This woman is evil, hypocrite, and two faced. Iv’e seen countless of posts from her one being her page of Facebook bashing str8 people ( i am gay) for having different opinions about her life style. She posted many nasty comments about religions and basically anyone who has different option about gays and trans. You ask yourself– how can anyone be supportive to our cause if we breathe hate and division every time one disagrees with our life style?

  6. My heart just breaks reading this. It breaks even more when I realize that the only place I see information about the deaths of TWOC is on Autostraddle. Why aren’t more people outraged!?

    • We trans women aren’t seen as human by the population at large, and my sisters of color even less so. People need to start paying attention, we’ve lost too many already.

    • Approximately 44 people are murdered in the U.S. each day, on average. That means 2,420 people have been murdered so far, this year. If 15 (?) of them have been trans* women, that would account for .6% of all homicides. If we can determine what percentage of the population is trans*, we would get an even better idea of our annual survival rate and be able to compare that to other categories of people. I think I’m just rambling at this point, but it is really quite interesting when we take it all in to perspective.

      • That is a really good perspective to have! Numbers seem to have a lot of power when advocating, so knowing these sorts of things could be really good.

        • Yes, Justina, statistics are a good tool to have when advocating for change. Our problem starts when we call for change when our perceived numbers are so low in comparison to the whole. If we can show that the number of trans* murders compared to the number of trans* women are much higher, then we may have an attention-grabber that can get national attention each time it happens. It can be like (more rambling here) “Save the Florida Panther” or something. Maybe even get a license plate or something.

  7. im really shock about the news. she was lovely and inspired friend. im from london but we speak every time to time . i never have chance to meet her in person but im gonna miss her alot . love you sumaya

  8. As a Somali myself I first heard about this via the Somali twitter community and I was deeply saddened to see the lack of empathy towards her death because she was trans. Transphobia and homophobia runs rampant in our community (like most other communities) but I am glad to see that there is some sort of conversation that is stemming from this tragedy. There are a lot of trans and queer folks that are Somali and I am tired of my culture sweeping these issues under the rug. That ends here, RIP Sumaya.

  9. It is a tragedy but also personal loss for me. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and interacting with this beautiful soul called Sumaya. Unlike this brave person who was clear about her gender-indentity, I have recently started my own trans-journey and was greatly inspired by the beautiful Sumaya. RIP, sweet angel. May your soul soar on the wings of love.

  10. What a beautiful young lady and what a tragedy that this happened just because she was being herself.

  11. What a beautiful young lady and what a tragedy this happened to her just because…..she was being herself !!

  12. Rest in Peace, Sumaya. Though I don’t know you, I do mourn your loss and will do what I can do fight the injustices faced by trans people.

  13. i met sumaya on paltalk she was very nice girl we become good friends
    i just heard tonight is a shock to me i still can’t bleived she had a good hart and good soul i will miss you sumaya rest in peace at last you are what you always wanted to be bb

  14. An intriguing discussion is definitely wworth comment.

    There’s no doubt that that you should publish more about this topic, it might not be a taboo subject bbut usually folks
    don’t sppeak about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!

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