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How Can We Celebrate Pride If We Keep Dying?


WASHINGTON — This past weekend, Muhlaysia Booker, a young Black Transgender woman, was found murdered in Dallas, Texas. In April of this year, she was filmed being horribly beaten in public. Another Black Trans woman, Tamika Michelle Simone, was pronounced dead this weekend after suffering gunshot wounds in north Philadelphia. Claire Legato, a Black Transgender woman in Cleveland, died after being shot in the head last week.

In response to the tragic news, David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement:

“Her name is Muhlaysia Booker. She was 23 years young, living her best life in Dallas, Texas. The video of her being brutally beaten went viral last month. This weekend, she was found dead in the street in Dallas. This violence happens far too often to Black transgender women and too often goes without discussion or justice. As we mourn Muhlaysia’s death, we also call the name of another sister, Tamika Michelle Simone, another Black transgender woman, who was shot to death in North Philly. Still, we call the name yet another sister, Claire Legato, a 21 year-old, Black transgender woman in Cleveland, died after being shot in the head last week. Muhlaysia, Tamika, and Claire join the long list of Black transgender women who have been murdered, and we should all be alarmed and moved to stop this specific form of gendered violence disproportionately impacting Black women and girls.  

“In just a few weeks people across the country will kick off a series of Pride events that will last throughout the Summer, including the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Around the country, people will attend parades, red carpet events, social gatherings and fireside chats to celebrate the many gains we’ve made towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people. However, it is important to understand that we cannot truly celebrate being free until each of us is safe. Right now, hate crimes, state-sanctioned violence, and discrimination are killing too many members of our community, too many Black women.

“The time is now to create a world in which all Black women and girls can live full, healthy, and happy lives. And when we say “women and girls” we must account for all women and girls, including Black transgender women and girls. Our Black transgender siblings face unique challenges simply as a result of who they are. Black transgender people have: higher rates of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, sexual assault, police violence, and healthcare disparities than both the general U.S. population and the Black U.S. population.

“Our call to action is gender justice. This is essential to ensuring equity; to ensuring that our country lives up to its founding principles. While we pause to acknowledge the work that remains to ensure equity for all, NBJC pauses to say the names of our sisters, Muhlaysia Booker, Tamika Michelle Simone, and Claire Legato. We invite you to celebrate their lives and join in the work of ending the unique violence experienced by Black women and girls.”

We know of 26 trans Americans who were murdered last year, according to Human Rights Campaign, and 5 trans Americans murdered so far in 2019. The vast majority of them were trans women of color. To learn more about NBJC’s work, please bookmark this page in anticipation of the release of our Gender Justice Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to facilitate uncomfortable conversations that can save the lives of Black women and girls, including cisgender, transgender, and gender non-conforming people.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.