Mercedes Williamson, 17 Years Old, Yet Another U.S. Trans Woman Murdered in 2015

Mercedes Williamson was 17. She wanted to be a cosmetologist one day.

According to the Sun Herald, Williamson’s friend reported her missing on May 30th and Williamson’s body was found on June 2nd. Josh Vallum, 28, has confessed to the murder and is being held at Georgia County jail on $1 million bond.

Williamson was living with her friend, Jeanie Miller, who told the Sun-Herald that she thought of Williamson as her daughter. In a video interview with the Sun-Herald (WARNING: this video uses Williamson’s birth name), she said, “I just keep wanting her to walk through the door… I’ll never have nobody like her again… She was the most beautiful person.”

According to Miller, Williamson left their trailer around 2 p.m. on May 30th. She was supposed to be picked up by a friend. Her last words to Miller were, “Love ya’ later!” When Williamson never returned, Miller contacted the person who was supposed to pick her up. That person informed Miller that Williamson was dead. The next day, the murderer confessed the crime and where Williamson’s body was buried to his father, Bobby Vallum. Bobby Vallum reported the murder to the police and Williamson’s body was found at 9 a.m. on June 2nd. Josh Vallum reportedly knew that Williamson was a trans woman before he killed her. Hate crime charges have not been brought. Williamson was estranged from her family, who have not commented on the murder publicly.

via the Sun Herald

via the Sun Herald

Williamson is the ninth reported trans woman that we know of has who been murdered this year. The facts of her murder are just now being revealed because of misgendering by local media.

These are the names of the trans women we have lost in 2015. Remember their names and their lives, taken too soon: Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, KY; Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk, VA; Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler, TX; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, Los Angelos, CA; Taja de Jesus, 36, San Francisco, CA; Penny Proud, 21, New Orlean, LA; Kristina Grant Infiniti, 47, Miami, FL; London Kiki Chanel, 21, Philadelphia, PA; Mercedes Williamson, 17, Theodore, Al. There is also Bri Golec, 22, Akron, OH, who may have been a tenth murdered transgender woman (reports from friends are unclear).

This is what an epidemic of violence against trans women looks like.

At the inaugural National Trans Anti-Violence Convening this past March, Lourdes Hunter of the Trans Women of Color Collective stated, “Last year, 12 trans women of color were (reported) brutally murdered in a 6 month time span as our nation’s largest LGBT organizations celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion now known as Pride. This year, there have been at least 8 (reported) murders of trans women of color and 6 (reported) deaths by suicide of trans youth. Now more than ever, our communities are in need of healing, fellowship, to be held and to come together to address the physical and structural violence we face every day.”

As we celebrate Pride across the U.S., let us honor the names of those who have been murdered. Let’s remember that the gay pride movement was built on the backs and literal bodies of trans women of color. Let’s do more than say their names. Let’s stand collectively and say that this must stop.

Mercedes, we hold you in our hearts.


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KaeLyn is a 34-year-old (femme)nist activist and the reigning Queer Fat Korean Immigrant Ms. America Pageant winner. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, over-caffeinating herself, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, eating tofu, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. Talk sexy about intersectionality, cult movies, or theatre nerdiness to her at @kaelynrich.

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8 Comments

  1. Nine… I’m glad no customers have come in where I work because I’ve been crying for the past few minutes. During the spring semester that just ended I started working on getting things set for a memorial to those slain installed in a high traffic area at my university, but it got lost in the late semester mash of work. I need to start that project up again and make sure it’s in place for the start of the coming school year.

  2. Its difficult to update new units with a superior and adequate world model when they’re actively invested in other memeplexes designed to suck up their energy and computational resources and channel all off to human breeding and/or this or that pack empowerment – and to give nothing in return.

    It’s difficult to make someone realise the full implications of being stranded on a hostile alien planet – when they’re impure in their heart. When they’re a halfblood mongrel with two halves to reconcile, who because of sentimental reasons feels more kinship and commonality with the subsentient beasts preying on them…. than with the biomechanic machinery that is part of them and technological superiority that is their only protection.

    It’s difficult to teach anything at all to a person whose entire take-home value from Blade Runner is either ‘it’s a fictional scenario about human compassion and robots that ultimately is not real and has no bearing on my personal life’ or ‘what’s Blade Runner?’.

    In a an environment like LV426 everyone is a soldier, whether we realise it or not – and those of us killed in action may rest in peace and knowledge that if those staying alive are worthy at all – the sacrifice hasn’t been for nothing.

  3. this makes me so sad because she was barely a woman. 17 year olds are basically children still. that asswipe killed a child for living her truth. sending lots of love and light to those directly hurt by this. rest in ppower mercedes.

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