Kenneth Bostick, 59, is the Tenth Trans Person of Color Murdered in the US This Year [UPDATED]

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This post has been updated to reflect Kenneth Bostwick’s correct gender. His death was originally reported as the death of a trans woman, but people who knew him have spoken out in recent days to let the media know Kenneth was a trans man. We apologize for our mistake. 


On May 4th, Kenneth Bostick, a Black trans man from Chelsea, Manhattan died from injuries he sustained when he was attacked on April 25th. He is the ninth Black trans person to be murdered in the US this year and the tenth trans person of color. Back on the 25th, Bostick was found unconscious and was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for head injuries sustained before he died. Bostick was beaten just two days after we reported on the murder of Black trans woman Chay Reed of Miami, Florida.

I have a disgusting sick feeling in my stomach. It’s horrifying how easy it is for our society to throw away the lives of Black trans people like Bostick. Mesha Caldwell, JoJo Striker, Keke Collier, Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Jaquarrius Holland, Alphonza Watson, Chay Reed are Black trans women who were reported murdered already this year.

Some of the reports on his death say Bostick was homeless; housing insecurity is a huge problem for trans people across America and globally. This is especially true of Black trans women and other trans women of color.

We need to take actions so that trans people have a safe place to live. We need to petition women’s shelters to let trans women in. We need to act to decriminalize sex work. We need to support trans women while they’re alive, including giving them money, and not just mourn them when they die. We need to fight against politicians who support bathroom bills and defund Planned Parenthood and prevent insurance from paying for trans healthcare. We need to actively fight against anti-Blackness.

Here’s a list of the trans people that we know have been murdered in the US this year; they’re all Black except for Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, who was Native. Unfortunately, I’ll be back in a week or two to add another name to this list.

Mesha Caldwell, 41

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28

JoJo Striker, 23

Keke Collier, 24

Chyna Gibson, 31

Ciara McElveen, 21

Jaquarrius Holland, 18

Alphonza Watson, 38

Chay Reed, 29

Kenneth Bostick, 59


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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 488 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. 5

    The need to get vulnerable trans women safe housing is beyond extreme. Also getting trans women out of street prostitution the most dangerous job there is for all women needs to be a priority. RIP

  2. 4

    The high murder rate of black trans women is horrifying. But this cannot be separated from the high rate of black trans women in the sex trade. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 40% of black trans women have some involvement in the sex trade. The sex trade is extremely dangerous for EVERYONE who deals with sex buyers – not just trans women. A woman in the sex trade -whether she is trans or not – is 18 times more likely to be murdered than others of the same race & class. If you want to save trans women’s lives you MUST support exit services for people in the sex trade. We must stop ignoring WHO is murdering trans women: pimps, sex buyers, and abusive boyfriends. Otherwise, you’re just giving lip service to the problem & exploiting the murders of trans women.

    • 9

      While I understand what you are saying and I agree that exit services from all abusive situations are necessary, I think Mey addresses this in saying that we need to decriminalize sex work, and I dont think its ok to accuse Mey, a twoc, of exploiting the murders of trans women.

    • 4

      Yeah, you lost me with that last sentence. Was right with you until “Otherwise.” It seems a bit harsh to accuse the trans woman we rely on to talk about about these murders of exploiting trans women. I was aware already of Brenda Bostick’s murder, but it’s important for this trans woman that Mey always notes it.

      If you have concrete ideas about how to implement an exit strategy for trans women from having to work the street to a more empowered life, I would like to hear them. If anyone in the trans or queer community is actively ignorant of how and why men kill us, then we need much more education on this. But yelling at each other won’t help accomplish that.

      I want to see the MSM give a fuck when we are killed. I want an hour long special on NBC, exploring why these women are killed, why so many have no choices. Part of a series called After Orlando, at least six eps on homophobia and biphobia and transphobia, why they hate.

      But dumping on Mey, no. Just no. She tries so hard, these stories must be awful to write yet she does it each time. And this isn’t the Times, this is a relatively small community, a safe place, where we should treat each other with care, or at least it seems so to me. We need to be kind to each other, here on AS certainly but also queers in general, in the broadest, Queer Nation-quasirevolutionary sense. We need more love for one another. (That includes me; I’m speaking in mom-mode, I have been known to yell, too.)

      The queer community is under attack. We die by ones and twos all the time. Yet we are so disunited; no one benefits when we fight each other, except those who want to destroy us.

      I was 11 when Stonewall happened, I’ve lived through it all. I grew up in Texas ffs. I’ve seen the enemy, and he *ain’t* us. (a little Pogo reference for the comics fans)

  3. 3

    @meyrude
    I came across this article last week. What are your thoughts on this?

    My women’s empowerment group had a similar discussion last week about language and the power it gives reality. I can’t help but feel like the more we prophesize further violence against trans women, that is what we will see. I’m a romantic – maybe a bit delusional. I truly believe that positive energy out yields positive results.

    If we spread a purely hopeless narrative, how will trans people feel strong, empowered, and confident enough to demand the human rights we deserve? What if we lived in a world where despite the violence, we spread news of transgender people helping others, loving their communities, and making the world a better place? Because this is what a lot of us ARE doing.

    When people ask me the hardest part of being trans, it’s not the violence, fear or discrimination. It’s at the end of my day, being able to tune out all the external voices — others telling me who or what I am. Because I am not a danger. I am not a monster. To hell with those voices. But you know terrifies me? It’s if I hear this hate enough times, will I start believing it? That’s why, for me, staying positive and hopeful, is survival.

    • 1

      I feel you. I love what you said. First thing I thought was, “Gee, it was a fuck of a lot more dangerous in the 90s.” True on a daily basis, here in NYC at least. That was then; only we knew when one of us died. We were the only ones who cared. But yes, certainly we should examine whether the way we present these stories drives hopelessness now. Including in me; every time I hear we lost someone, I feel more fear. I think, oh yeah, I forgot: we’re at war. I feel grimness, resolve to get another self-defense item that’ll fit in my bag, that I can use if I have no choice …

      I came out for real — wore my clothes (borrowed my wife’s pants, which really makes it even better, looking back), left house, sky didn’t fall, plus that EO drove me out — three months ago. The 90s ultimately didn’t work out for me, I had to hide a long time, from those who would attack us but also from my survivor/ptsd-driven fears. I re-started HRT on 6/28/16. I know that at one point last Fall, there was a transgender news site I avoided for a long time, because it seemed all the stories were about one of us dying. Enough other horrible things were happening, I maxed out on sorrow, I didn’t want to know. We need something else, something more.

      Like everyone else, we need hope. Trans or lesbian or bi or enby or aces, or names I haven’t learnt yet, however we identify, we have to give young queers more hope & less fear. Or some of our queer youth will stay hidden, will die so often by suicide rather than face the hatred all around them, will die by murder or be thrown out into the street by their families of origin, if they dare say who they are, and each time we lose someone from our communities, we are all diminished. We lose a voice, a mind, a heart, ideas we will never know. They need a whole lot of hope to survive, like everyone, only more so.

  4. 3

    As a cis person, I don’t have anything to say except thank you to Mey. As a white person, I want to ask other cis white people listening in on this conversation to listen hard to trans women of color, including Mey, in addition to Anastasia Walker’s piece linked above in this conversation. In reading Anastasia’s piece, I hear her asking a primarily white, liberal, mostly non-queer, mainstream media & audience (huffpost) to see trans women as fully human & fight harmful policies rather than make a spectacle of antitrans violence. Although Anastasia specifically points to the practice of listing the names of trans women of color who have been killed as Mey does here, I think that in context Mey’s piece is not creating a spectacle. It is part of a practice of remembrance & grief that has been started & led by trans women of color who have chosen to humanize people they know who have been killed, and empower themselves and their community, by listing names and remembering a person like Mey remembers Brenda here. (I’m thinking about what bell hooks writes in All About Love about grieving being an act of love & an act of resistance to domination & death). Along with the list of names, Mey also asks us to “listen to . . . . especially trans women of color” (who, as Anastasia and Mey note, of course have many stories), do the work to “support trans women while they’re alive, including giving them money,” and fight the anti-Black and anti-trans policies that made Brenda vulnerable. Combining remembrance and call to action like Mey does here brings to mind groups like Casa Ruby in DC, Nationz Foundation in Richmond VA, Familia Trans Queer Liberation, LaGender in Atlanta, and lots of other tiny local groups I don’t know about, led by black and latinx trans women, that do grief & remembrance work along with extremely hard work of creating safe places for trans women of color to sleep, get healthcare, and have options about employment and education so that more trans women of color in their communities can live the full & hopeful lives that Walker asks the mainstream media to amplify.

  5. 0

    The link to this article needs to be changed asap. It has the wrong name, which means the wrong name shows everytime someone shares it. This article is literally spreading his wrong name and doing exactly what it says not to do.

  6. 0

    This article needs to be deleted and rewritten (perhaps by a trans man of color). This article and multiple people in the comment section dead name him over and over again. We are always up in arms whenever someone dead names any trans woman after death or in life, yet you all sit here and dead name this man. So disrespectful and careless. Also this was a trans MAN that was killed, yet Mey only discussed his tragic death for a small portion of the article. The rest/majority of the article the writer talks about the death of twoc.Trans men already don’t get as much visibility as trans women and their struggles/needs aren’t discussed as much either. You could have incorporated the deaths of trans women in the article, but the majority of the article should have been about the actual victim and other trans men who are raped and murdered by cis men. This article/comment section is so tone deaf and self serving. I hope you choose to rewrite this because it’s terrible.

    Sincerely,
    A black cis woman.

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