The murder of 20-year-old Londonn Moore was the 14th known homicide of a black trans women in the U.S. this year.
In September, more than two dozen people gathered at the Trans Wellness Center (TWC)
In Los Angeles to take part in the national moment of silence known as #Time4BlackTransWomen to demand action for black trans lives.
#Time4BlackTransWomen goes beyond an online hash tag by taking up physical, public space and encouraging people to say the names of the trans women murdered this year.
TWC was chosen as one such space because it brings together comprehensive services and resources for transgender and gender non-conforming people under one roof. The Los Angeles LGBT Center is one of six local organizations to be partners in TWC and coordinates its management and operations.
“This angers me,” trans LGBT activist Jazzmun Crayton said as she gestured towards a poster board covered with the photos and names of the 20 trans people overall murdered in 2018—including four black trans women who had been killed in a recent two-week span.
“I’m mad! It hurts because I care about these people,” Crayton added. “I don’t have to know you to love you and care about you. I know we have similar paths.”
Each name of the 20 murdered was read aloud followed attendees saying in unison: “Rest in power.”
In addition to Moore, the other names read were: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, Viccky Gutierrez, Zakaria Fry, Celine Walker, Tonya Harvey, Phylicia Mitchell, Amia Tryae Berryman, Sasha Wall, Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon, Nino Fortson, Gigi Pierce, Antash’a English, Diamond Stephens, Cathalina Christina James, Keisha Wells, Sasha Garden, Dejanay Stanton, Vontashia Bell, and Shantee Tucker.
Since the vigil, the death toll was raised to 22 with the murders of Nikki Enriquez and Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier. The Human Rights Campaign has more information about each victim at HRC.org.
“We are honoring these folks because their lives were not in vain,” said Crayton, a health and policy coordinator for APAIT (Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team). “Thank God they lived. They meant something, they belonged to somebody, they were someone’s child, they were someone’s friend. They had dreams. They loved. Their lives had purpose and reason.”
APAIT is one of the other six local organizations that are partners in the TWC.
“The Trans Wellness Center is always open to the community,” TWC Program Manager Mariana Marroquin said after the vigil. “We are here to support and celebrate our trans brothers and sisters.”
Parys Hall, a health education specialist at the Center, shed tears when she spoke after the reading of the names.
“As a black trans person, when I think about the lives that have been taken, I am thankful for every year that I make it,” Hall said. “I’m 27 years old now. I heard someone say if you’re 30 and you made it that far you have to give yourself a hand. If you’re 30 and you’re trans, you’re basically a legend in our community because we die so young.
“I’m really thankful that I’m still here,” she added. “I’m thankful for every year that I’m here and haven’t been physically bashed or murdered. I’m thankful for the days that I haven’t been verbally attacked as well. I’m just sorry for the lives that have been taken.”
Chela Demuir, founder of Unique Woman’s Coalition, called for more unity among the trans people in Los Angeles and also called out families—especially black families—who reject their trans members.
“We’re not killing each other. This comes from stigma, society’s stigma on our community,” Demuir said. “There are so many things that effect us as black folks that prevent us from living our true lives. The fact is that when we do end up living our true lives, we end up having to be target practice to the same very families that kicked us out.”
In 2017, there were at least 28 murders of transgender people in the U.S.—the most ever recorded.
Samantha Montemayor of Trans Power Survivors of Violence program asked: “Why do people decide to kill somebody just because they’re different? Every time I hear that somebody has been killed I think that could have been me. We’re all created equal. We’re all God’s children.”
For more information about TWC and its partner organizations, go to mytranswellness.org. To report anti-transgender violence that you witnessed or experienced, go to the Communities Against Hate website at communitiesagainsthate.org.