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Crime

Black Trans Women Lost to Violence in Mississippi and Illinois

Martasia Richmond and Shawmaynè Giselle Marie McClam
From left: Martasia Richmond and Shawmayne Giselle Marie McClam

Martasia Richmond and Shawmayne Giselle Marie McClam are the latest casualties of this epidemic of violence.

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Two more transgender Americans have died by violence, bringing the 2022 total of violent deaths among trans, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary people in the U.S. to 20.

Shawmayne Giselle Marie McClam, a Black trans woman, was shot to death at her apartment in Gulfport, Miss., June 21, reports the Sun Herald, a local newspaper. Initial media coverage misgendered and deadnamed her. Her sister, whose name was not released, was shot several times but survived.

Makhari Seven Gasaway, 20, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault, according to TV station WLOX. He had been in a fight with McClam, which escalated, police told the station.

McClam had recently completed training to become a certified nursing assistant, driving to Alabama for classes, and was scheduled to start work as a traveling CNA on June 27, an online obituary notes.

"Everything she did was to better herself and her family," the obit states. "She always wanted more out of life and was determined to get it. ... She loved her family, especially her nieces and nephews, and they loved her just as much if not more." She was a fan of Nicki Minaj's music and loved to dance.

"Shawmayne was a kind, beautiful young person who, like any person, deserved to live a full life," Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign's director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. "Her life was cut short by gun violence. These tragedies happen all too often to Black and brown transgender women in communities across the country. The violence we face is one of the devastating results of ongoing stigma and discrimination. All of us must step up to end that stigma. We are people. We have friends and family, passions, hopes and dreams, just like anyone else. And we deserve to live our lives fully without discrimination or violence."

In Chicago, Martasia Richmond, 30, also a Black trans woman, was stabbed to death on July 11, TransGriot reports. She was found on the porch of a home there when police responded to a complaint of domestic battery.

Police have arrested Daniel Burley, 31, described as Richmond's partner, according to The Chicago Journal, which deadnamed the victim. Burley is charged with first-degree murder but his lawyers claim he acted in self-defense. He is being held without bail.

"It is evident in the countless tributes from friends that Martasia Richmond was well-loved and taken from us far too soon," Cooper said in a separate news release. "At 30 years old, she should have decades ahead of her to spend with those she loved. Her death was not only unjust but part of an alarming trend of anti-transgender violence in Chicago and in this country at large. More must be done to protect Black transgender women and the entire transgender and gender-nonconforming community."

In 2021, the violent deaths of 57 trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans were reported, most of them Black and Latinx trans women. That number was the highest since activists and media have been keeping track. The number in any given year is undoubtedly higher, given misgendering and deadnaming by police and media.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.