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Black Trans Woman Ashia Davis Killed in Michigan

Black Trans Woman Ashia Davis Killed in Michigan

Ashia Davis

Davis is at least the 12th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year.

Black transgender woman Ashia Davis was found dead June 2 in a hotel room in Highland Park, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and police are investigating her death as a homicide.

She is at least the 12th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to have died by violence in the U.S. this year.

Davis was found at the Woodward Inn, The Detroit News reports. The Michigan State Police have released surveillance video of a man walking and running in the hotel’s parking lot, and they say he may be a suspect.

“While the video is from a distance and the photo is blurry, we are hopeful that someone will recognize this person,” said First Lt. Mike Shaw, public information officer for the MSP Second District, according to the News. Police have not stated the cause of her death, but witnesses said she appeared to have been shot, Detroit’s Fox affiliate reports.

Davis, 34, “was full of joy, devoted to her faith, and a loving dog owner to a Yorkie named Clyde,” says a Human Rights Campaign press release. Friends said her dog was stolen from the scene of her death.

Davis was well loved by her friends and family, local media report. “She’s my only child,” her mother, whose name was not provided, told the Fox affiliate. “She was just getting a job and went to school. I just don’t understand why this happened.”

Allona Anderson, a friend of Davis’s, was at the hotel when Davis’s body was found, the station reports. She said she and Davis had known each other since they were children, and “we loved each other.”

Timothy Clark set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Davis’s funeral expenses. On the site, he described her as “a beautiful soul with a heart of gold,” adding, “She has a family that includes an aging mother that is just completely devastated.”

Local activists also held a benefit this week. “The funds are going toward a memorial service to send her off the way we want to send her off, with respect,” Julisa Abad, director of outreach and advocacy at Fair Michigan and victim advocate at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, told the Fox station.

Abad encouraged everyone to watch the surveillance video and come forward if they have information that can help find Davis’s killer. “I’m confident that somebody in the community is going to recognize the [suspect’s] jacket, the pants, the distinguishing shoes, the way that he walks,” she said. Anyone with tips is asked to call (855) MICHTIP or Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAKUP.

She stressed the violence that Black trans women often face. “When we talk about the LGBTQ community marginalization, trans women of color, specifically, experience the most violence,” she told the station. She added, “No one should feel safe; we don’t know if this is a first-time occurrence or if this person has gotten away with this before.”

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, noted that “Ashia Davis was a beautiful human being who deserves at a minimum to be alive today, sharing her cheerful spirit with us. During Pride Month and every other month, we’re faced with yet another tragic reminder that as Black trans women, we are under attack in this country. Anti-trans rhetoric and stigma perpetuate this violence. It’s beyond unacceptable that not nearly enough of those in power have spoken out against this inhumanity. We continue to call for justice — for Ashia and for all those we’ve lost without sufficient answers.”

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