True-Crime Show Grave Mysteries Features Texas Trans Woman's Murder

Ty Underwood

Activists and LGBT media have been calling attention to the epidemic of violence against transgender Americans, especially trans women of color, for several years, but now true-crime TV is raising awareness too.

Tonight’s episode of Grave Mysteries on the true-crime channel Investigation Discovery will cover the 2015 murder of Ty Underwood, a black trans woman, in Tyler, Texas. The program includes interviews with police, reporters, and Underwood’s friends, plus reenactments in which transgender activists play trans characters.

Underwood was shot to death in her car in January 2015. Her last communication with anyone had been through the chat app Kik. She had met a potential romantic interest via the app but was beginning to have doubts about the man.

“Ty never put up with any type of lies or any type of neglect,” Underwood’s friend Antonio Austin says in the program. “Ty knew her value, and her value was very high.”

She was employed as a nursing assistant at a retirement home and was planning to enter a nursing program at Kilgore College in Longview, Texas.

Jay Knowles portrays Underwood in the reenactments, while Mila Jam and Kita Updike play her friends Coy Simmons and Kenya Darks, respectively. Simmons herself is also interviewed on the program, as are journalist Cory McCoy and police officers Adam Tarrant and Nathan Elliot.

The Advocate reported on the outcome of the investigation, but you may want to wait to revisit our coverage until you’ve watched the program, which premieres tonight at 10 Eastern/9 Central. Check here to see where to find Investigation Discovery on your cable system.

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