Less than two weeks after our trans editor, Mey Rude, reported on the death of Sherrell Faulkner, we’ve learned of another murder of a Black trans woman. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Kenne McFadden, a 27-year-old Black trans woman from Texas, was found murdered near Riverwalk in San Antonio. McFadden was misgendered in early police reports, which is why it’s taken two months for trans rights activists and organizations to learn of her death. She is the 12th trans person of color murdered this year in the United States; almost all of those murders have taken the lives of Black trans women.
One of Faulkner’s friends from high school who’d recently reunited with her told a local news station that she “would be that shoulder you needed to cry on. Everything you would expect in a friend … super outgoing, super charismatic, friendliest person ever, but when he needed to, he could be assertive when the time came.” (Be aware, McFadden is misgendered throughout the local news article.)
Trans women of color — especially Black trans women — continue to exist at one of the most dangerous intersections in America. The brutal forces of racism, sexism, and transphobia come to bear in horrifying, violent ways on these women’s lives and their bodies.
2017 has rained down especially demoralizing news for trans women. While the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of trans student Ash Whitaker being allowed to use the bathroom that matches his gender identity, the political climate elsewhere in America has been bleak. The Trump Administration rolled back Obama’s Title IX protections for trans students, which caused the Supreme Court to punt Gavin Grimm’s case back to a lower court. “Bathroom bills” (redubbed “privacy acts”) have been introduced in state legislatures all around the country. Despite the North Carolina’s legislature’s promise, it did not completely repeal HB2, but huge events like the NBA’s All-Star are heading back to Charlotte anyway because the optics aren’t as bad with the revised (though still completely transmisogynistic) bill. Under Trump, the forces of Breitbart and the Religious Right have combined to scapegoat trans women with more force and brutality than ever.
It’s in this political climate that we write, on average, an obituary for a murdered trans women of color every other week.
As Mey Rude wrote earlier this year:
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.
Kenne McFadden was a server at a restaurant in San Antonio. According to friends she had a beautiful singing voice and a kind word for everyone.
These are the names of the trans people who have been murdered so far in the United States this year.
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
Mx. Bostick, 59
Sherrell Faulkner, 46
Kenne McFadden, 27