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Crime

Black Trans Man Semaj Billingslea Killed in Jacksonville

Semaj Billingslea

Billingslea was shot multiple times just outside a motel.

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Semaj Billingslea, a 33-year-old Black transgender man, was shot to death September 21 just outside a motel in Jacksonville, Fla.

Police found Billingslea at the Baymont Inn and Suites in the early evening, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reports. He had been shot multiple times but was still alive. He was taken to a hospital, where he died of his wounds. Several local media reports misgendered him.

Billingslea was a Jacksonville native and entrepreneur who had started a cleaning business. "His social media feeds are filled with love and adventure with his friends" and show him to be "a vibrant life force that left an imprint on many people," Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents notes. "He was unabashed about his faith in God."

Friends and family gathered Saturday for a vigil near the site where Billingslea was killed. "The character of Semaj was larger than life, and when you're larger than life there's always going to be haters," his father, Tahlmage Billingslea, said at the vigil, according to Jacksonville's CBS affiliate. "There's always this kind of thing that comes along when you're out there and first to do something fully."

Police have not identified a suspect in the crime. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office or First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS (8477).

Semaj Billingslea is one of at least 32 trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming people to have died by violence in the U.S. this year. At least 57 members of this population died violently in 2021, a record number in the time activists and media have been keeping track. In any given year, there are likely many more such deaths, as victims are often misgendered and deadnamed or their deaths not reported at all.

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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.