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Trans Woman Michelle Washington Murdered in Philadelphia

Michelle "Tamika" Washington

Another Black transgender woman has been murdered — Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, who was shot to death on a city street Sunday morning in Philadelphia.

Police found her about 5 a.m. and took her to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Philadelphia Gay News reports. She had been shot in the head, torso, and buttocks.

Troy Bailey, 28, was arrested Monday night and charged with murder and other offenses, according to Philadelphia TV station KYW.

Washington, who was known as Michelle Simone on social media, was a “no-nonsense” person, Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans woman running for Philadelphia City Council, told PGN. They had known each other for 20 years. Washington was a nursing student at the Community College of Philadelphia.

She was also a longtime advocate for trans people. “Tamika was a brilliant and outgoing member of Philadelphia’s transgender community, known for her advocacy and mentorship, and she will be profoundly missed,” Amber Hikes, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, told the station. “The epidemic of violence that continues to plague the transgender community — disproportionately impacting trans women of color — is heartbreaking, frightening, and infuriating.”

Alvarez likewise emphasized this epidemic. “It’s very important that we stress that because we’re not seeing LGB people murdered every other day,” she told PGN. “It’s time that we say this is happening to trans women, it’s happening to Black trans women, it’s happening to trans women of color. ... It’s time that we shift the focus to that.”

Washington’s death comes a day after the death of Muhlaysia Booker, who was fatally shot in Dallas Saturday, a month after she had been beaten by a mob.

“Muhlaysia and Tamika join the long list of Black transgender women who have been murdered, and we should all be alarmed and moved to act to stop this specific form of violence against Black women and girls,” said a statement issued by David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.

“In just a few weeks people across the country will kick off a series of Pride events that will last throughout the summer, including the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,” he continued. “Around the country, people will attend parades, red carpet events, social gatherings and fireside chats to celebrate the many gains we’ve made towards equality for LGBTQ and same gender loving people. However, it is important to understand that we cannot truly celebrate being free until each of us is safe. Right now, hate crimes, state-sanctioned violence and discrimination are killing many members of our community. There would be no anniversary of the Stonewall riot without Marsha P. Johnson, a Black Transgender woman who remained at the forefront of the fight for the rights and respect that LGBTQ/SGL people deserve. How can we celebrate Pride if we keep dying?

“The time is now to create a world in which all Black women and girls can live full, healthy, and happy lives. And when we say ‘women and girls’ we must account for all women and girls, including Black transgender women and girls. Our Black Transgender siblings face gender-based violence simply for existing as themselves: higher rates of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, sexual assault, police violence, and health care disparities than both the general U.S. population and the Black U.S. population. Our call to action is gender justice. This is essential to ensuring equity, to ensuring that our country lives up to its founding principles. We are all created equally and deserve to live in our truths.”

So far in 2019, there have been five reported homicides of transgender people, all Black women. There were 24 total in 2018. The actual number in any given year is likely higher, as many victims are misgendered by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all.

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