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Black Transgender Women Killed in Louisiana, Florida

Fifty Brandz and Alexus Braxton

Two more Black transgender women have died by violence in the past couple of weeks, one in Louisiana and one in Florida.

Fifty Bandz, 21, of Baton Rouge, La., was shot to death January 28. Four days later, police arrested Michael Joshua Brooks, 20, with whom she had been in a relationship and who had threatened her life previously, according to local media, which deadnamed Bandz. He is charged with second-degree murder.

The two had a “volatile” relationship, Baton Rouge’s Advocate newspaper reports (the paper is not related to this Advocate). They had broken up for a time but started dating again recently, and police say the shooting occurred during an argument.

Bandz’s death is an example of intimate partner violence, which trans people experience at a higher rate than cisgender people. In 2020, 70 percent of trans and gender-nonconforming people who died by violence “were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner,” the Human Rights Campaign notes. Forty-four trans people died violently in the U.S. in 2020, the most since activists and media began keeping records, most of them being Black or Latinx women. So far in 2021, the killings of five Black trans women and one white trans man have been reported.

“This level of violence is infuriating and heartbreaking,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “This is an epidemic of violence that must be stopped. We will continue to affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter and say the names of those we have lost, including Fifty Bandz, but we must do more. Fifty was killed by someone she knew — if we can’t trust the people we know, who can we trust? We need everyone to take action to bring this horrific violence to an end.”

HRC further pointed out the prevalence of gun violence; nearly 80 percent of the deaths of Black trans women involve a gun. So did the Louisiana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks.

“Fifty Bandz should be alive today,” said a statement issued by Angelle Bradford, a volunteer leader with Louisiana Moms Demand Action. “Our hearts go out to Fifty Bandz’s loved ones. No one should have to know what it’s like to have someone taken by gun violence, but tragically, Black trans women are shot and killed at alarming rates. Black trans lives matter and it’s past time lawmakers to start acting like it.”

In Florida, Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, was found dead in a Miami condominium complex last Thursday, Gay City News reports. Miami-Dade County Police are investigating her death as a homicide but have declined to release details on how she died, saying it would compromise the investigation.

Braxton was the daughter of a board member of Hollywood, Fla.’s LGBTQ Council, the organization posted on Facebook. Police are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. They ask that tips be submitted to Detective J. Segova at (305) 471-2400 or to Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at (866) 471-8477 or CrimeStoppersMiami.com.

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