A Black trans woman named Muhlaysia Booker has been found shot to death.
On May 18th, Dallas police found Muhlaysia’s body face down near Tenison Park Golf Course. The police department hasn’t been able to find a suspect as of yet, but Muhlaysia’s family believes it could be someone that knew her. Speaking to Dallas’ CBS station, Muhlaysia’s cousin Quanjasmine Baccus said,
“I know for a fact it wasn’t a stranger. It was someone who knew her.”
Back in April, Muhlaysia made national headlines after a video of her being beaten went viral on social media. Muhlaysia had accidentally backed her car into another driver’s while at the Royal Crest Apartment complex where she resided. When Muhlaysia spoke to investigators, she said the driver ran her off the road to prevent her from fleeing the scene. He then held a gun to her head, threatening her to pay for the damage done to his car.
Someone in the video offered another man, Edward Dominic Thomas, $200 to beat Muhlaysia. He began punching her and grabbing her by the hair and several other men joined Thomas and began kicking and stomping Muhlaysia’s head. Several homophobic slurs such as, “That’s what your faggot ass gets”, and “lame ass faggot ass bitch” can be heard throughout the video.
The video cuts off as several women are seen taking Muhlaysia away from her attackers. She was taken to the hospital, where she received treatment for a broken wrist and facial injuries. Texas does not include gender identity in their hate crime statute, so Thomas was charged with aggravated assault. He was later released on a $75,000 bond. Despite his violent attack on Muhlaysia, police say they do not have any reason to suspect Thomas for her murder.
Dallas police are also trying to figure out if Muhlaysia’s death is linked to two other crimes against Dallas trans women.
Last October, a trans woman was found shot to death in her car, while another was stabbed (the woman survived). Police Major Vincent Weddington said the police are working with federal authorities to find if the attacks were, in fact, hate crimes.
Muhlaysia becomes one of the five trans women — all of whom are black — known to be murdered in 2019. Two of the other victims, Michelle “Tamika” Washington (40) and Claire Legato (21), died a day after and four days before Muhlaysia’s death respectively.
Tamika, a trans community activist from Philadelphia was found with gunshot wounds in the head, body, and buttock on May 19th. A suspect has since been arrested. Claire was shot in the head on April 18th after an argument with her mother and the suspect. She passed away from the gunshot wound on May 14th.
The deaths of Muhlaysia, Michelle, Claire, and countless others in the trans community sheds light on a much larger problem when it comes to the hatred and phobia of trans people, particularly black, trans women.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, violence against the trans community disproportionately affects trans women of color. Last year, at least twenty-six trans people were killed last year in the United States, twenty out of which were Black.
It’s worth noting, however, that a lack of data makes it hard to accurately track the murders of all trans people. Since 2013, a known total of 128 trans people were killed, 80% of which were women of color.
Like any other hate crime, it’s going to be hard to nip trans violence in the bud. And it’s especially clear that work needs to be done specifically within the Black heterosexual community. There is still a lot of internalized discrimination and LGBTQ-phobia that needs to be dissected and it’s not going to happen overnight.