Three black trans women have been killed in Texas since October, and activists believe that attacks are on the rise due to a hostile political climate
The transgender community in Dallas was still grieving for Muhlaysia Booker when news broke last week that the body of Chynal Lindsey had been found in a lake, making her the second black trans woman murdered in the city in the space of a fortnight.
Three black trans women in their 20s have now been killed in the city since last October, when Brittany White was discovered fatally shot in a vehicle. Booker was found face down on a Dallas street on 18 May, five weeks after cellphone footage of her enduring a sustained beating in front of a jeering crowd went viral.
I think were still coping with being shocked, were still in our mourning process of just laying to rest Muhlaysia Booker, said Carmarion Anderson, the executive director of Black Transwomen Inc, a support group in Dallas.
Were seeing that another young black trans woman has been found murdered, it has alarmed us, were scared, I believe that were angry, were looking for answers, looking for a place of refuge. Our emotions are just pretty much all over the place, she said.
You cant help but hold in the forefront [of your mind], whos going to be next? Will it be me? Or will it be another one of our black trans sisters? So theres a lot of fear thats going on, a lot of anxiety, trying to watch our surroundings.
Bookers funeral was held last week at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, which is said to have the biggest LGBTQ congregation in the world. She was beautiful. She was so beautiful, her mother, Stephanie Houston, said during the ceremony, standing at the altar next to a blue coffin adorned with flowers.
Her back has been against the wall so many times and thats one of the reasons I didnt want her to be who she was, because its already hard for a black man. Then a black gay man that wants to be transgender? Ive seen all the hate and all the stuff she went through.
Other black trans women have been attacked in Dallas in recent years. In April a woman was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead but survived. The decomposed body of Shade Schuler, 22, was located in a field in 2015, and the remains of another woman were discovered in 2017. None of the cases have been solved. Karla Flores-Pavon, a 26-year-old Hispanic trans woman, was strangled in a Dallas apartment in May last year. Police arrested a man and said the motive was robbery.
The attacks in the Texan metropolis underline the dangers faced by trans people across the country, with trans people of color in southern states especially vulnerable.
Lindsey appears to be the eighth black trans woman killed in the US this year, according to information collected by the Human Rights Campaign. It tracked 26 deaths among all races in 2018, 29 killings in 2017 and 23 in 2016, though it is hard to be definitive because police and media reports sometimes mis-gender victims and not all deaths may be publicly known.
Three black trans women were shot dead in Jacksonville, Florida, last year, raising fears of a serial killer, though police said the murders were unrelated.
In Dallas, police have said there are certain similarities between some of the crimes but have not established a clear link.
Activists believe that attacks are on the rise and much of the blame lies with a hostile political climate.
The evangelical movement and conservative movement were feeling like they needed a victory in the culture war so they decided to start picking on trans folks starting in about 2015, said Monica Roberts, a black trans woman, writer and advocate from Houston. That year, the US supreme court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move that was celebrated by many but left some social conservatives aghast.
Since his election win in 2016, Donald Trumps White House which is heavily supported by religious conservatives has moved to roll back Obama-era protections for trans people in the military, in healthcare, in schools and in homeless shelters.
Ever since the Trump administration came in it has been increasing, she said. Youre putting all this hatred out, it doesnt just go away in a vacuum, people will act on it. And they have been.
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