We must ask you once again to join us in mourning black trans women identified as the victims of murder. Kandis Capri, 35, was killed by gunshots on August 11th in Phoenix, possibly while trying to intervene in a domestic dispute. Elisha Walker, 20, of Rowan County North Carolina, went missing in October 2014. Police found Walker’s remains Thursday. They have taken Angel Arias, a known member of the Latin Kings street gang, into custody and charged him with her murder.
Media reports have provided few details about the women and their tragic deaths. In an interview with The Guardian, Capri’s mother Andria Gaines said she suspected her child’s murder might be a hate crime that occurred after Capri left a friend’s apartment to investigate whether her car had been towed. The two had a loving relationship despite Gaines’ initial resistance to accepting her daughter’s gender. Walker’s mother Rhonda Alexander said Walker was “always smiling and always had something sassy to say,” and said she is glad that Arias’s arrest brings some closure and justice for her family.
The news of these murders comes at the end of the week when we also learned of the murders of black trans woman Shade Schuler and black gender fluid trans person Ashton O’Hara. So far this year, 12 other trans women have been murdered. Almost all of them were women of color, and most were under the age of 30. They were Amber Monroe, 20; K.C. Haggard, 66; India Clarke, 25; Mercedes Williamson, 17; London Chanel, 21; Kristina Grant Infiniti, 47; Penny Proud, 21; Taja de Jesus, 36; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33; Ty Underwood, 24; Lamia Beard, 30 and Papi Edwards, age 20.
We also lift up the name of Mya Hall, a black trans woman who was shot by National Security Agency security guards after making a wrong turn into an incorrect exit, leading toward NSA headquarters in Baltimore.
This year so far, 15 dmab trans people — 16 when you include Hall, and 17 if you include Walker, whose date of death has not been confirmed by police — have been murdered, more than in all of 2014. This month alone we have learned the names of five black trans people who were murdered. Five times in two weeks, we have been confronted with the brutal reality of the violent consequences of transmisogyny and racism.
Trans activist Reina Gossett put it simply on Twitter:
How many times this week will we say stop killing black trans life? #KandisCapri #AshtonOHara #MsShade #ElishaWalker #BlackTransLivesMatter
— Reina Gossett (@reinagossett) August 15, 2015
The hashtags #SayHerName and #BlackTransLivesMatter are lifting these trans people up while national media and many activists pay little attention. The most important thing we can do as a community is listen to trans women of color and respond to their needs. They cannot bear this weight, grief and anger alone. We must repeat the names of these individuals and demand justice for them. As Mey wrote after learning of O’Hara’s death:
There is an unchecked weapon of mass destruction moving throughout America that is aimed straight at the heart of trans women and dmab trans people of color. This avalanche of murders of Black and Latina trans women don’t seem to cause mainstream society to even bat an eye. We’ve already seen two more murders this year than all of last year and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. My heart is broken, my head is weary and I’m shaking as I’m writing this.
We must work together to dismantle systems that lead to these murders. We must fight against legal, systemic and social discrimination against trans women, especially trans women of color. We should read trans women’s words, support their activism and community development work and demand accountability from those who violate their rights and lives. Earlier this month Autostraddle published an excellent list of 24 ideas from trans Latina activist Lexi Adsit that break down some of the many ways the queer community must intervene to support, protect and celebrate trans women.
Trans women are being murdered, and that must mean the entire queer community is in a state of emergency. Today, say the names of Elisha Walker, Kandis Capri, and the 15 other dmab trans people our community has lost to transmisogynistic violence this year and commit to making the list stop growing.
Column pitch: a weekly ‘transwoman you should know’with an interview, pictures and information about any causes she’s affiliated with. I’m tired of the majority of the news about transpeople being about their deaths (and the bullshit Chelsea Manning is going through). This is fucking heartbreaking.
Seconded! This would really help bring more awareness to our community, and also potentially give us some positive news every now and again- which God knows we need.
Yes! Even just to show that the world – or at least a little corner of it – cares about trans women and wants to hear your beautiful voices alive. Meanwhile, stay safe! I don’t know if that’s a prayer or a cry.
This is a great idea and I’m fully behind this!
I heard about this earlier and was figuring you all would be reporting on it soon. Kandis’ murder hit really close to home to me- I live in Tempe- and I’m really scared that the Phoenix PD won’t even bother with an actual investigation (because, hey, it’s fucking Phoenix). Which, as far as I’m concerned, is basically the equivalent of saying “You are totally welcome to kill trans women, especially trans women of color, because we don’t care enough of them to protect them/consider them as actual human beings.”
I’m hoping I’m proved wrong.
How come Mya Hall is listed separately? Was she the only one killed by police? I was trying to figure out what made her case set apart, looked her up and had to remember how terrible the coverage of her killing was.
Perhaps because as tragic and unnecessary as her death was, there’s no evidence that she was killed *because* she was trans?
That makes sense, thanks. Coverage of her story was so fucked I couldn’t even get a sense of what happened & why.
Yes, as far as we know Mya Hall was the only one killed by law enforcement, and so the circumstances are different from those of a typical homicide. Since she is not included in some other sites’ and organizations’ lists, we felt it important to clarify who she is and how she was killed.
I feel like I don’t even have words anymore, much less the right ones…
If this makes you angry, do something.
Call out friends who say a trans girl or woman is a danger to other women or that she ever owes anyone information about her past.
Vote down and spread the word about movies and television shows that use humiliating and/or killing trans women as a safe joke.
Write complaints to news channels and news sites that post articles about trans children and then allow horrible comments to be posted talking about their bodies. This would never be allowed for any other child.
Speak out about the whitewashing and ciswashing of lgbt history.
Don’t assume visibility is a good in and of it self. The increased visibility of trans folks has made a lot of wonderful changes possible, but it also puts the most vulnerable in more danger.
Defend trans folks and cis allies when other people say they are being too angry…even if they are not expressing them self clearly. Not being angry is reprehensible…not being coherent when angry is understandable.
Don’t forget Bri Golec! Thank you for writing this
Bri Golec’s family and friends have vigorously pushed back against the idea that she identified as trans or was a trans woman. Since I don’t trust cis people’s views of such things, and Bri can’t speak for themselves (having been murdered by their father), and I haven’t really seen anything quoting local trans women who knew Bri, I don’t know what to think.
There is something disturbing and disconcerting when seeing numerous articles about recipes, “the Comment Awards,” A-Camp, dapper clothes, girlfriend advice and women dancing in their underwear interspersed with the never ending stream of brutal murders of African American (and other) trans women. Breezy queer-girl-happy-content and this don’t belong side by side. I also know it’s not popular to say, but when people post comments on these threads responding “Mey, I feel so sorry for you” they’re grossly missing the ENTIRE point of what this is about. :(
I so agree. That juxtaposition — light, happy stories about cis queer women of all races (stories which rarely if ever make an effort to be inclusive of trans women) vs. horrible stories about trans women (mostly TWOC) being murdered — has made me more and more reluctant of late to visit this site. I’m not suggesting for a moment that the murders shouldn’t be covered here. They should. But when trans women are separated out from cis women 99% of the time, and portrayed only as being tragic victims of murder and hatred (with little attention paid to other aspects of our lives), I become very uncomfortable.
I don’t claim to know any one’s mind, but it’s hard to face inhumanity and death. It’s easier to cling to breezy-happy content and try to run from hurt. And even easier if the hurt isn’t something that “directly” affects you in real life.
But how does one read what Mey wrote and just go “I feel so sorry for you”? Did they make it this far in life without reading comprehension or critical thinking skills?
Or are they really thinking the death and oppression of other humans in a society they also exist and take part in has nothing to do with them, just the oppressed class?
I can’t read every memorial, eulogy or obituary statement of sadness and outrage because things some times cut too close to my own trauma and upset that someone’s last moments were like mine almost were and no one deserves that. I need that happy-breezy content.
But I can still fight against the legal, systemic and social discrimination against trans people and people of colour.
Not trying invalidate your disconcertion because it is valid, we do try to escape too much.
I feel for Mey because she’s covering awful news about people an awful lot like her. I think/hope the expressions of feeling sorry for her are coming from a similar place, well intended but tone deaf.
The articles about murdered trans women are mostly here to make folks feel good about themselves… not to actually inspire any change. The few times actual trans activists have tried writing articles for this site their posts were met with a cold shoulder.
The reality is that the situation is awful and there are things people can do, but talking about real change makes people uncomfortable and that isn’t fun.
I understand the anger and why it’s safer to vent it on allies, but turning against Autostraddle on this matter is not helping matters at all.
I think that’s an unfair characterization of the comments above. I’ll leave it at that.
I think this would be a fine criticism for my comments here…but for Ginapdx it seems beyond harsh. She is not turning on allies.
Hey y’all, if you have concerns about Autostraddle’s overall content mix or specifically about our coverage of trans stories, I encourage you to reach out to our executive team via email, our trans editor Mey Rude (a trans women of color who directs and reviews all our trans content) or hey, you can tweet me at @audreywhitetx. I hope though that for the rest of this particular comment thread we can focus on Elisha Walker, Kandis Capri and the overall epidemic of racist, anti-black, transmisogynistic violence in the U.S.
… I have no words, no gestures, no inarticulate screams.
… If the murder rate of trans women were in line with women as a whole, we would expect to see around 4.5 murders per year, give or take a few thanks to how difficult it is to obtain reliable estimates of the transgender population as a whole…
We’re already three times that rate this year, less than 3/4 of the way through. Fuck.
This is intolerable. I saw the news and felt sick to my stomach.
A great column by Helen Boyd:
Tamara Dominguez in Kansas City.
Reasons I elect not to own a gun. I am seriously ready to ride on some of these bastards and get unholy levels of payback for my sisters.
This is heartbreaking. By the way, “Dmab” is not a respectful way to refer to people — the trans women and gender fluid victims of these crimes would be referred to collectively as “trans people.” Please don’t reduce us to our genders assigned at birth.
Agreed, very frustrating.
damn i had no idea it was this bad.
This is one reason I haven’t transitioned. I do wear women’s underwear and some other articles of clothing, but I generally look like a somewhat feminine man. I have no desire for actual surgery, I don’t feel I need it to complete me, but understand those that do.
There will always be stupid people out there that use violence to enforce their belief systems. This is sad, and I’m not sure it will ever go away. We called people in Iraq that did this terrorists. I don’t see it any different now that I’m back home.