Keyonna Blakeney, Just 22, Becomes the Latest Black Trans Woman Murdered in the US

Once again the epidemic of intimate partner violence against Black trans women has reared its horrifying head; Keyonna Blakeney, a 22 year old trans woman, was murdered in Washington, DC. Her body was found in a Red Roof Inn, and police are reporting that she may have been engaging in sex work. Blakeney becomes the ninth trans person reported murdered this year, meaning that if this pace keeps up, 2016 will break the horrible record that last year set of the most trans murders reported in the United States in one year.

From the Facebook post by Foxx Jazell.

From the Facebook post by Foxx Jazell.

Reports first came in on Facebook via a post by Foxx Jazell, who said that Blakeney “was celebrating her birthday” just a few days ago. Jazell also pointed out that her murder was likely due to the sex work that she was engaged in, which is often one of the few places trans women and especially trans women of color can turn to for solid employment, but is also a huge source of violence for them. While many men are much more than willing to sleep with trans women and pay us to sleep with them, many of them also associate sleeping with trans women with shame and guilt, and often turn that into rage. Whether it’s shame at what they’ve done or fear that others will find out that they slept with a trans woman, those negative feelings often manifest as real violence toward trans women, and again, usually trans women of color.

This is a huge problem, and it’s a problem that lies with men. If the men who sleep with trans women would step into the light and stop associating trans bodies with fetishes and shame, the number of trans women murdered in the US would drop significantly. I’m far from the first trans woman to say this; others like Cherno Biko, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Angelica Ross and Jen Richards have been saying extremely wise things on this topic for years. But honestly, there’s not much that women can do other than to tell men that they need to step up. The men who sleep with trans women have the power, and they need to use it to protect trans women.

Keyonna Blakeney joins trans women Monica Loera, Jasmine Sierra, Maya Young, Kourtney Yochum and Shante Thompson, genderfluid teen Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, and trans men Kayden Clarke and Demarkis Stansberry on the list of trans people murdered in the US this year. Once again, nearly all of these people have been Black. Police are asking people with information on Blakeney’s murder to call 240-773-5070, or 866-411-8477 if you want to remain anonymous. A reward of up to $10,000 is available. There’s a fundraiser up to raise money for her memorial services. We mourn Keyonna and hope that her death is the last one we hear of for a while.


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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 514 articles for us.

13 Comments

    • I feel the same way! I feel like I need a vacation desperately, but there seems to be no place safe in this world to travel.
      What’s described occurring in this article is horrific… Men killing their sex partners because of the shame they feel within. They need to just kill themselves, and leave the world a better place.

    • What is the point of adding this comment without context? How do you think that should affect how we discuss *her* murder, specifically? Being charged is not the same thing as being found guilty, and under no circumstance does it justify being murdered.

  1. Frustrating to see some transphobic commenters coming out of the woodwork to post on this article. No matter what Keyonna did, it obviously doesn’t justify a brutal murder, and unless her previous arrest is related to her murder it seems irrelevant at best and intentionally cruel at worst to bring that up.

    This is the second murder of a trans woman of color in Montgomery County, MD in the last 6 months (that’s where I grew up). Really depressing. Thanks Mey and Autostraddle for continuing to cover this epidemic.

  2. Of course no one deserves to be murdered. I do, however, think that if it was a cis dude who assaults a kid we wouldn’t take the side that getting charged does not mean he did it.
    I think it is possibly for someone to do some fucked up things to people but still deserve to live. Trans people aren’t immune from that.

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