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Statement on Tragic Deaths of Dominique Fells and Riah Milton


NEW YORK — This week, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton, two Black transgender women, were killed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Liberty Township, Ohio respectively. 

In response to this tragic news, Sage Dolan-Sandrino, member of the NBJC Black Trans Advisory Council said:

“Violence against trans people has been normalized. This is beyond problematic, especially because Black trans women carry the weight of this violence. Our community faces so much violence, so much of it is not discussed, not in public, not until there’s video of one of our sisters being beaten by a mob or there’s a public story of a gruesome murder. In the Black community we have to be better about not only discussing the violence and dangers that Black trans women face. The Black community also has to put an end to these extreme acts of violence.  It’s too often that with few exceptions the only people talking about the murder of Black trans women are black trans women. What will it take for non-Black trans women, for non-trans folx to value our lives? How many more of us have to die? We need support — we need members of our community who are fighting for and chanting that Black Lives Matter — we need to see you talking about our Black lives too.

“Three things for everyone who is not a Black trans woman to do are: 

  1. Talk about this. Talk about trans existence, talk about trans lives, talk about the violence we continue to experience at home, with your children.

  2. Creatives and those with power must create and share more stories reflecting diverse trans experiences.  Trans people must have ownership of and be central to the process.

  3. Be disruptive. Step up. Allyship looks like being disruptive. The next time you hear someone say something transphobic speak up. The next time you witness violence against a trans person, step up.” 

David Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition said:

“I am beyond sick of reading about my sisters being murdered. Black trans women deserve better. They deserve to live. As we honor and demand justice for Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, we must do the same for Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells and Riah Milton.

“Black transgender women face violence at all fronts. In many states it remains legal to bar them from employment for who they are and how they show up in the world. Many have been forced to work in high-risk jobs during the pandemic, risking infection at a time when Black people are dying at alarming rates. This, in addition to many of them remaining on the front lines of protracted struggles for the rights that so many of our non-Black, non-queer siblings take for granted. Now, even as the nation declares that Black Lives Matter, we only see more tragedy. Dominique and Riah matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.”

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.