Three more African-American transgender women have been reported murdered in the past few days, bringing the total of known transgender murder victims this year to 16, most of them trans women of color.
A body found Thursday in Johnston County, N.C., has been identified as that of Elisha Walker, 20, who had been reported missing by her family last fall, reports Charlotte TV station WSOC (watch below). Police found Walker’s remains buried behind a house near the town of Smithfield in Johnston County, after having found her car burned and abandoned in a field in another county.
The car led them to Angel Arias, 23, a member of the Latin Kings gang. He has been charged with murder and felony vehicle theft, and was jailed in Johnston County without bond as he awaited transport to Rowan County, where Walker had lived, the station reports. Police have not cited a motive in the killing but say Walker apparently died of blunt force trauma.
In Arizona, it has been confirmed that Kandis Capri, shot to death outside a Phoenix apartment complex last Tuesday night, identified as transgender. Local media did not cover the story at first, but London newspaper The Guardian interviewed Capri’s family and reported this weekend that she was indeed transgender.
No arrest has been reported in the case. Capri’s purse and phone were missing, but Capri’s family was not discounting the possibility that her murder was a hate crime.
A candlelight vigil to honor Capri will be held on Wednesday, August 19 at 7:00pm at the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space, 424 N Central Ave. Friends of the victim have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fund her funeral expenses.
Meanwhile, Equality Michigan has reported that Ashton O’Hara, murdered in Detroit in July, was a transgender woman, although still using male pronouns. The group learned of O’Hara’s death last week in the wake of the murder of another Detroit trans woman, Amber Monroe; no news media had reported on O’Hara’s killing.
The Detroit Police Department has arrested Larry B. Gaulding, according to Equality Michigan. He is in custody and will be tried on a first-degree murder charge beginning September 24.
“For the third time in less than seven days, we have had to report on violence against a trans person of color in our community,” said a statement from Yvonne Siferd, Equality Michigan’s director of victim services, referring also to a nonfatal shooting of a trans woman. “I cannot begin to express the outrage and sadness that we are experiencing. I am so grateful, that through this grief, I have had the pleasure of talking with Ashton’s mom [Rebecca O’Hara] about who he was, how he lived, and how he loved. Out of respect for Rebecca, we ask that all inquiries be focused on Ashton’s life, rather than on the gruesome details of his murder.”
#BlackLivesMatter founder Alicia Garza posted a statement to Facebook on the latest deaths. After listing those who have been reported murdered and noting that many more homicides go unreported, she writes, “Each one of these women should still be alive — but they are not because the lives of trans women are seen as disposable.” These murders constitute a state of emergency, she continues, adding, “The murders of trans women alongside the multiple other forms of violence that trans women experience must be elevated to the level of conversation that the murders of cis Black men now occupy.”
She concludes, “It cannot constantly be the job of trans women to constantly remind us that their lives matter too. The liberation of Black people as a whole depends on the liberation of Black trans folks. None of us are free until all of us are free.”
Check back to The Advocate for more coverage as these stories develop.