Black Trans Woman Rae’Lynn Thomas is At Least the 19th Trans Person Murdered This Year

Only two days after I wrote about the death of Trans Latina Erykah Tijerina, we’ve learned that yet another trans woman woman of color has been murdered. Black trans woman Rae’Lynn Thomas was shot by her mother’s ex-boyfriend in her home in Columbus, Ohio. Rae’Lynn is at least the 19th trans person murdered in the United States this year, the fourth trans woman of color to be murdered in the last six weeks.

Rae’Lynn was only 28 years old. Known as “Ray, Rayshawn, my boo Ray Ray, and Rayshawna” to her family, her aunt described her as “a performer, the life of the party and a fashionista.” According to her mother, she transitioned ten years ago and she was a light in all of their lives.

A local Ohio news station first reported on her death, which her family is rightly calling a hate crime. According to the report, Thomas’ death was especially brutal. She was beaten and shot by her mother’s ex, a man who had repeatedly called her the devil and made other transphobic comments. He called her the devil one more time before he shot her. After Thomas was shot, her mother says she said to her, “Mom, I love you. Tell my sisters and my brother I love them. Tell my family I love them. Mom, I’m dying, I’m dying, please don’t leave me.”

Rae’Lynn Thomas is yet another Black trans woman who joins our ever expanding list of trans people murdered this year. This isn’t slowing down. This isn’t getting better. This is just getting worse and more terrifying and more depressing. I am so afraid for my sisters, my friends, my elders, my family. It’s a constant fear, one that never goes away. It just gets worse on days I have to write articles like this and gets a little bit quieter on days that I don’t.

Something needs to happen. Cis people need to hold each other accountable. It will take a systemic change to stop this from happening year after year after year. Feeling sad each time you read an article about a murdered trans woman of color won’t stop it from happening two or three or four times every month. You need to call out transphobia and transmisogyny when you see it. You need to call out racism and anti-blackness when you see it. You need to talk to the men in your life about seeing trans women as women and women as human beings. You need to do what you can to support trans women of color while we’re alive. You need to stop just calling yourself an ally and start acting like members of your LGBTQ family are being murdered once every other week. You need to read these names and realize that they’re more than that, that they’re people who are gone forever and you need to realize just how long forever actually is.

Monica Loera, 43

Jasmine Sierra, 52

Kayden Clarke, 24

Veronica Banks Cano, 40

Maya Young, 25

Demarkis Stansberry, 30

Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, 16

Kourtney Yochum, 32

Shante Thompson, 34

Keyonna Blakeney, 22

Reecey Walker, 32

Mercedes Successful, 32

Amos Beede, 38

Goddess Diamond, 20

Dee Dee Dodds, 22

Dee Whigham, 25

Skye Mockabee, 26

Erykah Tijerina, 36

Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28

Rae’Lynn Thomas’ murderer called her the devil, but do you know what the devil really is? It’s the plague of violence that trans people, especially trans people of color, especially Black trans women face. It’s a Black trans woman named Deeniquia Dodds being murdered on July 14; another Black trans woman, Dee Whigham, being murdered ten days later; a third, Skye Mockabee being murdered just a week after that; a trans Latina named Erykah Tijerina being murdered less than two weeks later; and then Rae’Lynn Thomas being murdered not even two days later. It’s the fact that we’re guaranteed to see more murders of Black and Latina trans women and other trans women of color this year and probably this month. The devil is the fact that there are a lot of people who will read this headline and think “good riddance” and that even more will look at it without thinking or feeling anything at all.


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Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 575 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. Thank you for reporting yet again Mey, even though I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do so again and again.

    Those of us who have privilege, we HAVE to use it to stop these murders. Every one of us influences others. Apart from voting, we HAVE to engage with those who still do not value trans* lives.
    I don’t know others experiences, but I have found that I have had most success with first listening to the other person, then in a non-confrontational way, saying something like “That hasn’t been my experience.” And then talking in a way that centers trans* people’s humanity.
    It can be hard to not scream “You’re wrong, you’re helping kill people”, but people i’ve spoken with seen to respond better and be more open to change if they don’t feel attacked. And yes, it is extremely fucked up to be talking about the feelings of people contributing to these horrific deaths, but if it helps to save any of our incredible trans* sisters by strategically using our privilege for those who have it, then it’s worthwhile.

    Mey/moderators, I hope this wasn’t an inappropriate place to post this.
    Love and strength to you and all you valued beautiful wonderful trans* women.

  2. This horror lies at foot of emotional dysfunction of many males sense of esteem. Their fear of loss of esteem provokes many forms of violence in our society. For most people , their violence is horrorfyingly incredulous. These males view the mere existence of transfemales as a personal “attack” on them. A deminishing of their value… their self esteem.
    It is so very hard for us to understand the illogic of their actions. They see implications to themselves in the transgender identity of these women. They don’t understand that these transfemales were always female, just born in a body that looked male. They see us as being males who have decided to be females! And they fear being thought that they too might change into a female, and combined with their sexist belief of female inferiority drives their violence. Illogic and misunderstanding that leads to murder.
    What can we do? Well I think we have to make a HUGE effort in early education of children about the fact that some humans are transgender, so that males, and females also, will know that some “males” are really females, and some “females” are really males, and because they understand from a young age how it happens, they will accept those people as simply “different”, but no threat.

    Hope that makes some sense.

  3. It’s so horrifying that this number continues to rise, and that the world has lost Rae’Lynn. Thank you for reminding us cis people and white people that this ball is in our court, Mey; we need to do more and to do better.

    • Rachael, do you view a translesbian like a cis female lesbian?
      Can you look at a male body and know it is female…. In your heart? Or a female body and know it is male? …. This is the essence of being transgender…. and it is real…..and so tough for cis folks to accept…. and by accept, I mean ” fall in love” accept.
      You are so smart…. but is that enough?
      And I am asking you only, because you will have a thoughtful answer! Ok?

  4. Absolutely cis people need to do better if we want to really call ourselves allies. Just reading these posts and feeling sad isn’t enough. Thank you for saying it, Mey, and for doing the shitty work of writing about yet another murder of a Black trans woman.

  5. The rate of murder our black transgender sisters this year in the United States has been so sad that we all must to stand up with a unified voice and say something that will shake this country at its very foundations. Just because you were not born black transgender woman does not give anyone a pass to be silent. We,transgender people with our cisgender allies, need to speak out more often and louder not only for ourselves, because lets face the facts we will be next, but for those voices that have already been silenced by those who fear us because of their rabid bigoted vitriolic hatred thay are trying to use any excuse they can find to force the Transgender people back into the closet. They would prefer that transgender people be forced to live in the most darkest places where we have to hide hoping that we commit suicide. I am very sorry to you narrow minded rabid vitriolic hating bigoted people who judge me and my fellow transgender people. You probably have never even taken the time to get to know a transgender person. Why we need to be the way we are because you are afraid that you may learn something about yourself that you can’t face. Instead you prefer to hate someone like me who is so different from what you think is normal from your point of view. I and my fellow transgender people and our allies will be there to confront your foaming at the mouth hatred.

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