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

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Things That Matter

Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Argentina has long been a progressive bastion in Latin America. It was one of the first countries in the region to allow same-sex marriage and also has anti-discrimination laws in many cities. It’s also been a beacon of hope for the transgender community, with the government long allowing individuals to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex.

However, transgender workers still face immense discrimination and that has left a reported 95% of the community without formal employment. To help try and address this issue, the nation’s leaders have instituted a program to ensure that at least 1% of the workforce is made up of trans workers. It’s an ambitious task but the government is already making progress.

Argentina launched a program to ensure better transgender representation in the workforce.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree in September establishing a 1 percent employment quota for transgender people in the public sector. The law went into effect on January 1 and its aim is to bring more trans workers into the formal economy.

According to Argentina’s LGBTQ community, 95 percent of transgender people do not have formal employment, with many forced to work in the sex industry where they face violence.

“If all the institutions implemented the trans quota, it would change a lot for many of my colleagues. It would change the quality of their lives and they would not die at 34, or 40, which is their life expectancy today,” Angeles Rojas, who recently landed a job at a national bank, told NBC News.

There are no official figures on the size of the transgender community in Argentina, since it was not included in the last 2010 census. But LGBTQ organizations estimate there are 12,000 to 13,000 transgender adults in Argentina, which has a population topping 44 million.

Few countries in the world are stepping up to help trans workers quite like Argentina.

Argentina has long prided itself on its progressive policies. The nation was one of the first in the Americas to recognize same-sex unions and several cities have anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, Argentina adopted an unprecedented gender identity law allowing transgender people to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex. The law also guarantees free access to sex-reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments without prior legal or medical consent.

Worldwide, only neighboring Uruguay has a comparable quota law promoting the labor inclusion of transgender people. And a law such as this one has the potential to greatly impact the lives of transgendered Argentinians.

Despite the program, transgender people still face enormous challenges in Argentina.

A recent report by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People published in December said “the vast majority of trans women in the region have sex work as their sole economic and subsistence livelihood.”

It goes on to say: In Latin America and the Caribbean transgender people have their right to work violated along with all their human rights, and this takes place “in a context of extreme violence.”

Despite legal protections, Argentina’s trans community remains at risk. Many of the country’s trans citizens live in the Gondolín, a building in the Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, for protection and strength in numbers.

There have been advances in Argentina. This year, Diana Zurco became the first transgender presenter of Argentine television news, Mara Gómez was authorized by the Argentine Football Association to play in the professional women’s league and soprano María Castillo de Lima was the first transgender artist to go on stage at Teatro Colón.

However, the gap between the equality established by law and the real one remains large, warned Ese Montenegro, a male transgender activist hired as an adviser to the Chamber of Deputies’ women’s and diversity commission.

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