Things That Matter

Say Their Names And See Their Faces: The Black Trans Women Murdered So Far In 2019

This isn’t news to anyone, especially if you’re in the LGBTQ+ community. In a political climate that is trying to erase trans people from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), from the military, and most recently, from protections in homeless shelters, it’s clear the government is not going to help this community in crisis. There’s no question that Black women face higher discrimination than non-Black women of color.

That means it’s on all of us–feministas, poderosas and activists of all kinds–to shine a light on this issue and take action. We honor the women who have been murdered and the women who keep the fight going. Call your representatives. Demand justice. Donate to charities that directly provide resources to trans women.

Instead of highlighting the violence these women endured, we’re highlighting what they did with their lives.

Dana Martin

@Queerty / Twitter

Dana Martin, 31, made headlines as the first transgender woman killed in 2019, and just like that, her 31 years of life were erased. She was found hot dead in her car on Jan. 10. Martin’s best friend told Out magazine that she loved Aaliyah, the movie Friday, and that, “She was a very private, sweet person. Dana didn’t bother nobody, period.”

“[She] never really said [she was trans]. [She] just did it. [She] was gone one day and the next day came and said, ‘This is me,'” another childhood friend recalls. “But all through school, Dana had always looked like a girl, has always been mistaken as a girl. There was never a time when people didn’t ask, ‘Are you a girl or a boy?’ I think it made it easier for [her] to just be like, ‘transgender is my thing.’”

Ashanti Carmon

@MsIsisKing / Twitter

Ashanti Carmon was rejected by her family, and living on the streets by the time she was 16 years old. The trans community looked after her for the next ten years of couch hopping and performing sex work. She had just moved in with her boyfriend and was looking for employment at fast food restaurants to no avail. She was back at the strip many trans women go to for sex worth when a drive-by shooter fatally shot Carmon. She was killed on March 30 while standing on K Street, a stirp in the nation’s capital known for sex workers.

Claire Legato

@hhhhggggghhh / Twitter

Legato, 21, had begun her transition a few years ago. In a Facebook post on March 19, 2017, just two years before her death, she wrote:

“As I wake up everyday.. seeing the woman I’m becoming..👸🏼 I get scared cause it’s too good to be true really..😩 idk what the future holds and I’m excited asf!”🤗 they say all good things come to an end.. but this is one thing that can never be taken away from me.. who I am.. who I’ve always been.. 😌 CLAIRE..🦄✨💕 #feelslikeimdreaming”

Legato was shot in the head on April 15 during an argument between her mother and suspected shooter John Booth.

Muhlaysia Booker

@FOX4 / Twitter

Muhlaysia Booker, 23, made news one month before her death, during what Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings described as “mob violence.” She was in a traffic accident that resulted in a mob of people viciously beating her in April. On May 19, Booker was found dead from a gunshot. A 33-year-old Dallas man has been arrested for her murder and is implicated in another murder of a trans woman in the Dallas area.

Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington

@hhhhggggghhh / Twitter

Tamika was shot and killed in Philadelphia on May 19. The death was not treated as a hate crime since they don’t believe her gender identity was the motivator for the attack. Her friend of 20 years, Deja Lynn Alvarez, shared in a Facebook post, “Your memory will live and light will shine on through us.” She was known as a “gay mother,” to all in the community.

Paris Cameron

@JennSchanzWXYZ / Twitter

Paris Cameron, 20, was living out and proud to the very end. She was last seen celebrating her life with two good friends, Timothy Blancher, 20, and Alunte Davis, 21–both black gay men. All three were gunned down and killed in Detroit. The suspected shooters were charged for the murders and authorities believe the gender identity of Cameron and sexual orientation of her friends were factors in the violent crime.

Chynal Lindsey

@_uhmchristine / Twitter

Chynal Lindsey, 26, was born and raised in Chicago but moved to Arlington, Texas in the last few years. She went to Prairie State college and was working as an in-home health care provider. The same person who killed Muhlaysia has been linked as a possible serial killer targeting Black trans women in the Dallas area.

Chanel Scurlock

@Ash_Bash23 / Twitter

Chanel Scurlock, 23, died on June 6th, the first week of Pride month in Lumberton, North Carolina. One friend posted, “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”

Zoe Spears

@DCist / Twitter

Zoe Spears, 23, was a client of Casa Ruby. Ruby Corado describes her as “my daughter — very bright and very full of life. Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.” Her death, so closely after Ashanti Carmon left the trans community od Washington on edge as authorities attempted to find out if the deaths were connected.

READ: Transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco Was Found Dead In Prison And Her Family Is Demanding Answers

The Miss Universe Pageant Featured Its First Openly Lesbian Contestant And Crowned Miss South Africa The Winner

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The Miss Universe Pageant Featured Its First Openly Lesbian Contestant And Crowned Miss South Africa The Winner

NBC Universal / Miss Universe

Miss Universe made history this year. First crowning Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi as its winner. Tunzi has dark skin and a short-cropped afro — rampant anti-blackness means most people would not have conceived of her as the most desirable woman in the universe just a few years ago. Tunzi’s win is a win for black women across the universe but she wasn’t the only victor that night, even if she reigned supreme. 

Swe Zin Htet, Miss Myanmar, is the pageant’s first openly gay contestant. In fact, Htet came out publicly only a week before the pageant’s final round. The competition hasn’t had an out contestant in its 67-year history. In Myanmar, homosexuality is illegal. Not only was Htet making a stance in Miss Universe, but in a country where she could face very real consequences, including an imprisonment sentence of 10 years to life

Htet comes out to help the LGBTQ community back home.

The 21-year-old contestant wants to use her influence to change the laws against homosexuality in Burma, Myanmar. Members of the LGBTQ community in Burma still face all levels of discrimination and ostracization in society.

“I have that platform that, if I say that I’m a lesbian, it will have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma,” Htet said. “The difficult thing is that in Burma, LGBTQ people are not accepted. They are looked down on by other people and are being discriminated against.” 

Htet came out on November 29 in an interview with a beauty blog called Missosology. When asked if Htet had any personal causes she told the interviewer that she strongly supported same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. It was only a matter of moments before she proudly revealed she was a lesbian herself. 

“I came to a full realization about my sexual orientation over a long period of time. I knew I was ‘one of them’ way back in 2015. It is personally quite challenging but I feel that I have a greater voice and the best position to promote this cause. Some pageant fans know about it and they still support me but this is the first time I am able to talk about it in public,” she told Missosology. 

Coming out wasn’t easy, but Htet hopes it will have a positive change.

View this post on Instagram

Este es mi último posado oficial como @missuniversespain 2018 y es tan especial como el primero que realicé a días de ser coronada en la hermosa ciudad de Tarragona. Ha pasado más de un año y la emoción de ser #España permanece intacta. Ha sido un camino de descubrimientos, aprendizajes y evolución en el que juntos hicimos historia llevando al universo un mensaje que rompió barreras sociales. Hoy quiero agradecerles a cada uno de ustedes por ser incondicionales conmigo, por acompañarme en las risas, en el llanto, en la lucha por los derechos humanos, en la ardua tarea de educar sobre la diversidad del ser humano y en el orgullo de representar la energía, la cultura y la idiosincrasia de mi país. Gracias universo, gracias #España, gracias a ustedes, mis queridos amigos. Siempre suya, Ángela Ponce. _______ This is my last official shoot as @missuniversespain 2018 and it's just as special as the very first one I did just days after being crowned in the beautiful city of Tarragona. It's been over a year and the excitement to represent Spain is just as alive today! It's been a journey in which we've learned and discovered new things. We have evolved together and made history taking a message that broke barriers and has had a social impact. Today I want to thank each of you for your unconditional support to me. You've been there for me through the good times and bad, throughout this fight for human rights and the difficult task of educating about human diversity. I am very proud to represent the energy, culture and values of my country. Thank you, Universe. Thank you, #Spain. Thank you to all you, my dear friends. Always yours, Ángela Ponce. – Fotografía: @ivandumont. – Coordinación: @rogervrgs. – Producción: @tino.constantino. – Maquillaje y peinado: @jcesarmakeup. – Vestido: @douglastapiaoficial. – Pendientes: @gwittles. – Corona: @gwittles. – Locación: Hotel @vpplazaespanadesign – Org Miss Universe Spain: @milamartinez_pageantcoach.

A post shared by ANGELA PONCE (@angelaponceofficial) on

Htet told People that coming out wasn’t easy. She knew who she was since she was 15 at least, but her parents weren’t immediately as understanding as she had hoped. 

“At first, they were mad. They didn’t accept me. But later, when they found out more about the LGBTQ community, they started to accept me,” she said. 

Because LGBTQ members experience bigotry in her country, when she entered a three-year relationship with the famous Burmese singer Gae Gae, she had to keep it a secret. The contestant received praise from Paula Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization. 

“We are honored to give a platform to strong, inspirational women like Miss Universe Myanmar, who are brave enough to share their unique stories with the world,” Shugart said in a statement. “Miss Universe will always champion women to be proud of who they are.”

While Htet is the first out and proud lesbian in the Miss Universe pageant, there have been other open members of the LGBTQ community. Last year, Angela Ponce, who happens to be trans, was crowned Miss Spain. 

Black women reign supreme in the pageant world for the first time ever.

Hip Latina notes that in 2019, for the first time ever, Miss America, Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss Universe were all black women. The times, they’re changing! Beauty pageants have been known to promote a white European, cis, thin standard of beauty. While these wins are symbolic they do represent that the larger public perception of black women’s beauty is evolving. 

“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me—with my kind of skin and my kind of hair—was never considered to be beautiful,” Tunzi said as she was crowned. “I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”

Even Oprah Winfrey spoke out about the historic win.

Oprah Winfrey congratulated Tunzi on Twitter and invited her to speak at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Leadership was on Tunzi’s mind as well when she won

She said, “I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity and that is what we should be teaching these young girls—to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”

A Man From Texas Has Been Charged With Carving His Name Into His Girlfriend’s Forehead

Things That Matter

A Man From Texas Has Been Charged With Carving His Name Into His Girlfriend’s Forehead

@SAcurrent / Twitter

Domestic abuse, whether it entails physical violence or emotional abuse, continues to be a national crisis. Particularly among women of color and those who are undocumented. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence. The organization whose mission is to change the conditions that can lead to domestic violence such as patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism, has also reported that in the United States an average of about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. A new court case out of Texas is highlighting the severity of which these abusive relationships can excel to. 

WARNING: the details in this story are graphic and can be traumatizing or triggering to some.

Recently, police in Texas filed criminal charges against a man who allegedly used a knife to carve his name into his girlfriend’s forehead.

Police in Texas say that 19-year-old n was arguing with his girlfriend, 22- year-old Catalina Mireles when things became violent on December 5th. At some point in the argument, Hildreth is reported to have grabbed Mireles by the neck and then hit her in the face about 10 times. Soon after, a police affidavit says that he took hold of a knife and “carved his name onto her forehead.” Soon after, he fled from the apartment. He was arrested on Friday.

Mireles told the local police that she thought she was going to die. “He was going to put in the closet until he figured out what he was going to do with my body,” she told police.

According to KSAT,  Hildreth has a history of domestic and family violence. The police affidavit also stated that he had two outstanding warrants — one for burglary assault and another for assault of family assault. 

Pictures of Mireles after the assault, emerged on outlets such as The New York Post on Monday morning.

In the images, Mireles can be seen suffering from a black eye, with bruises across the side of her face, jaw, and lips and the name ‘Jack’ scratched into her head. 

Speaking to KSAT, Mirele’s mother said that her daughter was “scared for her life.” “He tried to kill her,” Mireles’ mother, Juanita Lopez, told the outlet. “I don’t ever want him to get out again — because he’s going to hurt someone else again.”

Hildreth was jailed on Sunday on a $75,000 bond.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages. Online chat is available 24/7/365 in Spanish. Get help without saying a word.

There are many ways that abuse can be identified. By the way your partner treats you physically, by the way, they treat you emotionally, and by how you feel about the relationship. This checklist of signs of abuse is one tool that you can use to see if you, or someone you know, is a victim of abuse.

And remember, more resources for dealing with abuse can be found by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 799 7233.

1. They have grabbed you and refused to let go.

gabkaphoto / Instagram

This falls into the category of physical abuse. No-one should grab you to make you feel threatened and unsafe. No-one.

2. They have pulled your hair.

Instagram: @theerinblythedavis

This is another form of physical abuse. Sure, a bit of hair pulling in the act of passion is fine. But when it happens as part of an argument, or when your partner is deliberately trying to hurt you or make you feel threatened, that is abuse.

3. They have thrown things at you and/or destroyed your belongings.

Instagram: @beatfreak1996

One way your significant other may try to control you is through your belongings. Throwing things at you and destroying your belongings is designed to hurt you physically and emotionally. Threatening to do so also falls under this category of behavior, too.

4. They have left you with bruises, black eyes, bleeding, and/or broken bones.

Instagram: @veeegooose

While abuse doesn’t necessarily have to leave marks on your body, a sure sign of physical abuse in your relationship is when your partner does leave marks. Research shows that once it happens the first time, a “threshold” of sorts has been crossed, and an abuser is more likely to hurt their partner again.

5. They have threatened to hurt or kill you.

Instagram: @raquelitt

It may not seem like abuse, since there are no physical marks left from a threat to hurt or kill you. However, these threats are still part of the arsenal of tools that abusers use. How? Because these threats are designed to control your behavior, and make you feel powerless. Abuse in a relationship is about the abuser gaining and maintaining power, and death threats are a way of emotionally controlling you.

6. They have threatened to take your children away or harm them.

Instagram: @stephaniemaurasanchez

Even if you have children together, children shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip in your relationship. Even more importantly, your children’s safety is non-negotiable: no partner of yours should threaten it. By the way, this doesn’t just apply to children. Pets can also be used to manipulate and control you in a relationship.

7. They have forced you to have sex.

Instagram: @jennylikesjewellery

Sex is not a “duty” to be fulfilled in a loving, equal relationship. Nor should your partner guilt trip or manipulate you into participating in sex acts after you have refused sex. Consent needs to be freely given! It doesn’t matter how long the two of you have been together. Otherwise, it’s classed as sexual assault.