The Person Inside ... The Gulf Between Us

Credit: Renato Danyi
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How We Get to Die / Philadelphia Trans Women Remembered

How We Get to Die / Philadelphia Trans Women Remembered

Credit: Renato Danyi
When I transitioned, I worried constantly about becoming a victim of violence. I consulted the Transgender Violence Tracking portal, which seeks to report incidents of violence against transgender people.  The portal reported 268 murders in the 12 months between November 19, 2013 and November 14, 2014.  I composed this summary of just a few of the ways we died that year.

Beaten and dragged through the streets. | Beaten in face with rock. | Beaten to death with sticks. | Burned to death – found in a trash bin. | Clubbed to death. | Dismembered and placed in a barrel. | Eyes removed. | Beaten to death by father who was teaching him to be a man. | Found in a pit, tortured and shot. | Found in multiple plastic bags — fingertips cut off, tattoos skinned, head and genitals never found. | Found with feet and hands tied. | Hanged. | Raped and beaten to death. | Run over by a vehicle. | Shot 10 times while phoning husband. | Shot by two men on a motorcycle. | Shot in front of her house. | Shot in the face three times. | Shot.  Beaten.  Asphyxiated. | Shot.  Body burned and dumped behind a dumpster. | Slaughtered, beaten and stoned to death. | Stabbed in neck. Beaten. Feet and hands tied.  Genitals exposed. | Stabbed 15 times. | Stoned to death. | Strangled and stuffed under a bed. | Suffocated by plastic bag. Thrown into garbage. | Throat slit. | Thrown dead into the street in front of police. | Thrown out of a moving truck.

I guess I should count myself lucky that I am white. In Philadelphia alone, at least six transgender women of color have been murdered in recent years. I wanted to learn a little more about them.  What a wonderful tapestry of humanity. I wish that I could have known them.

  • Maya Young, 25, stabbed in the neck and chest (2016).  Remembered as “funny, outgoing . . . a dreamer … mad REAL and LOYAL”.
  • Kiesha Jenkins, 22, beaten, robbed and shot by several men while exiting her vehicle (2015).  Attended Temple University. Remembered as “witty … wild in a good way … one of the people who wanted to change the world”
  • London Kiki Chanel, 21, stabbed in the back and neck with a pocketknife during an argument (2015). A friend remembers, “She had a heart of gold.”
  • Diamond Williams, 31, dismembered with a hatchet and screwdriver (2013). Repeatedly misgendered in the media; her remains went unclaimed by her family for over a year. Remembered by friends as “a loving, caring and creative person … a big personality and an even bigger heart”
  • Kyra Kruz Cordova, 27, shot in the head (2012). A leader in her community. Helped to found the Gay Straight Alliance in her high school. Volunteered at the Gay & Lesbian Latino AIDS education initiative. “a silly, fun, eccentric person . . . so full of energy”.
  • Stacey Blahnik Lee, 31, strangled in her home (2010). Overall Mother of the House of Blahnik, an LGBT community provider specializing in using performing arts to promote health. Remembered as “loving, inspiring, wise, and encouraging … a mother figure to a lot of young people”.




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Picture of Tina White

Tina White

I like to write and speak on issues of identity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. I believe that, when we learn to see and embrace the person inside one another, our lives, communities, and organizations are all the richer.
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