Breonna “BB” Hill, a black trans woman, was killed on October 14 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. She was 30 years old.
Itali Marlowe, a black trans woman, was killed in Houston, Texas on September 20, 2019. She was 29 years old.
Ja’Leyah-Jamar, a black trans woman, was killed on September 13 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Bee Love Slater, a black trans woman, was found deceased on September 1, 2019 in Clewiston, Florida. She was 23 years old.
Bailey Reeves, a black trans woman, was killed on September 2, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was 17 years old.
Tracy Single, a black trans woman, was killed on July 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. She was 22 years old.
Bubba Walker, a black trans woman, was killed in late July in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was 55 years old.
Pebbles La Dime Doe, a black trans woman, was killed on August 4, 2019, in Allendale, South Carolina. She was 24 years old.
Kiki Fantroy, a black trans woman, was killed on July 31, 2019 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She was 21 years old.
Denali Berries Stuckey, a black trans woman, was killed on July 20, 2019 in North Charleston, SC. She was 29 years old.
Brooklyn Lindsey, a black trans woman, was killed on June 25, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. She was 32 years old.
Zoe Spears, a black trans woman, was killed on June 13, 2019 in Fairmount Heights, Maryland. She was 23 years old.
Chanel Scurlock, a black trans woman, was killed on June 5, 2019 in Lumberton, North Carolina. She was 23 years old.
Chynal Lindsey, a black trans woman, was killed on June 1, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. She was 26 years old.
Paris Cameron, a black trans woman, was killed on May 25, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. She was 20 years old. Her two friends - 21 year old Alunte Davis and 20 year old Timothy Blancher - were also killed in the incident. Alunte and Timothy were both black gay men.
Michelle “Tamika” Washington, a black trans woman, was killed on May 19, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was 40 years old.
Muhlaysia Booker, a black trans woman, was killed on May 18, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. She was 23 years old.
Claire Legato, a black trans woman, died on May 14th, 2019 in Cleveland Ohio after being shot in April 2019. She was 21 years old.
Ashanti Carmon, a black trans woman, was killed on March 30, 2019 in Fairmount Heights, Maryland.
Jazzaline Ware, a black trans woman, was killed on March 25, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Dana Martin, a black trans woman, was killed on January 6, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 31 years old.
And those whose names are not known, but their spirits will never be forgotten.
-Names courtesy GLAAD website
The kids were laughing and cutting up as they always do.
My daughter is part of the Major Minors, Nashville in Harmony’s chorale group for LGBTQ+ teens and their allies. It is just one of few teen-friendly LBGTQ+ groups that have sprung up as of late in Middle Tennessee. They are all good groups doing great work with our community’s next generation of “us.”
They begin their weekly practice with a few minutes of sharing...good moments and bad moments from the past week. The topics range from school to family matters and is usually light-hearted in nature. Sometimes the moderator will point to one of the adults in the room and ask if they have something to contribute to the gang. Usually this evokes much laughter...the chosen adult often has no clue they have been made the wild card in the conversation.
Not this time. This person has just come back from volunteering with Nashville Launch Pad, the volunteer programme to give displaced LGBTQ+ young adults someplace to sleep off the streets…
(Displaced, hell... That’s my journalism training. Let’s call this right for once. These are KIDS kicked out of their homes for being unicorns. Kicked out by Bible-quoting parents who care more about their reputations than whether their queer kids live or die…many from the poor side of the tracks, some from the wealthy. Bigotry and fear know no economic boundaries...)
She gave the kids a cleaned-up version of what she had just heard and saw. Most of you reading this piece know the stories from personal experience in one fashion or another. This was the first time some of these kids had come face to face with one of the hard realities of queer life for many of us. Kids just a few years older than some of themselves kicked to the streets for being one of “us”...one of themselves. It was a sobering moment.
What I am about to write should not be taken as direct criticism...for I am just as guilty as anyone else on this subject. I too am learning on the fly...a belated education of queer history and LGBTQ+ realities that I managed to duck out of with my prep school and prep college backgrounds.
The Major Minors, the majority of like-minded LGBTQ+ groups for teens and the parents that support them are a great outlet for suburban LGBTQ+ kids, but they are the lucky ones. The majority of us do not come from families with professional backgrounds or access to medical care that will help us transition into healthy LGBTQ+ adults. Many of us have only high school educations or less. A significant number of us are still coming to terms as adults with our special blessing and have permanently ruptured relations with the loved ones who once raised and cared for us.
This is a huge problem and worth contemplating as we prepare to mourn the victims of hatred, bigotry and deadly violence in a commemoration of murdered transgender people that is beginning to go mainstream.
Why is this the case? Simple...our eyes have been opened. The history, the culture, the violence...it has always been there in front of us. But we did not “see” it until it began to affect those of us from the better sides of town. Our kids...my kid...LGBTQ+ kids and the same age allies who befriend and fight alongside them...they’re in the line of fire now. When I was their age, we took our elders well-meant advice and stayed closeted. We tried to hide and many of us tried to change with often disastrous results. Not anymore...
The hardest thing for more than a few of us in this blessed community of queer people and noble allies to come to terms with is that our heritage...our liberators and the movement they spawned...truly began with transgender sex workers of colour. We refer to this event as “Stonewall” and we need to remember that as we go to the commemorations of lives needlessly lost this week.
Today there is a historical marker outside the bar where the opening salvoes of bricks and bottles launched at the police...launched by people who were brave enough, or desperate enough, or pissed-off enough...to fight back against the state and those who enforced its laws restricting our freedom to be us. We with the higher education or from the majority white suburbs did not do this...our siblings of colour did. The same siblings who are commemorated in the names above.
And in proper queer fashion, as we seem to have done with much of our struggle and history, we have turned this solemn memorial of a fight for life into a colourful party celebrating those of us who came before...and will come again later (And yes, this is appropriate. I am sure our LGBTQ+ fairy g-dparents from those times would approve. These are really cool spirits of queerness past.)
They are still around today. The descendants of our liberators are the teenage to twenty-somethings on the streets doing what they have to do to survive and thrive as open LGBTQ+ individuals trying to make it another day without family or resources. We should not demean them. We should help empower them. These kids are us, and we owe our liberators a belated thank you by doing so.
Those of us who have never truly experienced discrimination of the most egregious kind must learn about it...and make a solemn promise to help openly fight it, and end it...outside and inside our community...no matter who it affects.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is meant to remember those of our community who lost their lives living as their true selves. The day will likely come where we will expand this memorial to all who lost their lives in our struggle for freedom. As a transgender person myself, I would not have a problem with that.
But we are not there yet. Not even close...
Too many transgender people of colour especially are dying. And unfortunately, kids like the Major Minors need to know that too. It's our present...
We must all band together to make it our past.
Click here for information about the Nashville Transgender Day of Remembrance event on November 20th at 7pm.
“Tzedakah” is a Hebrew word that means justice or charity. Groups such as the Nashville Launch Pad work ceaselessly to help our younger siblings get off the streets and move forward with their LGBTQ+ lives. If this article has stirred you, please consider a donation to them or other LGBTQ+ groups who are fighting to save young lives. Thank you for your consideration.
Julie Chase is the pen name for a local-area transgender woman. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily represent those of Out and About Nashville or its writers.