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Two Black Trans Women Killed in 48 Hours

Mya Young and Veronica Banks Cano

Advocates say the fatalities of two more transgender people show just how grave the state of violence against transgender people has become this year.


Philadelphia Police officers have confirmed that the body of a 25-year-old black transgender woman found at 11:50 p.m. Saturday belonged to Maya Young (pictured above at left), according to Philadelphia news station WPVI-TV.

Young was reportedly stabbed to death in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia near the 4800 block of Penn Street, the local station reported. Police rushed Young to the nearby Aria Health hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:21 a.m. on Sunday. No further information has been released about the homicide.

The day before Young was killed, another black transgender woman named Veronica Banks Cano (pictured above, right) was found dead at 9:00 a.m., fully clothed, in a bathtub at the EL Mio Motel on the 3500 block of Roosevelt Ave. on the south side of San Antonio, Texas, according to KABB-TV News. Although no additional information about a possible suspect, motive, or cause of death has been released, police say they did question individuals who were in the hotel room.

With Young and Cano's fatalities, the number of violent deaths of transgender Americans rises to four this year. Another Texas trans woman of color, Monica Loera, a 43-year-old transgender Latina, was fatally shot on her doorstep on January 22. The Austin Police Department arrested and charged 29-year-old JonCasey Rowell for the murder.

Arizona police killed Kayden Clarke, a 24-year old white transgender man with autism inside his home in Mesa, Ariz., on February 4. Amid a national conversation about police violence and anti-trans violence, Clarke's death prompted deep reflection about how to make sense of -- and combat -- the murder of trans men.

The fatalities come within a year where transgender people appear to be under political attack like never before. More than three dozen newly proposed anti-trans laws have appeared in 16 states, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign.

Advocates suggest that, with increased visibility in media and entertainment, transphobic violence may well be rising, especially among trans people of color and low-income trans people of all ethnicities.

Moreover, advocates suggest that the rising hostilities against trans Americans reveal the ways the media's outsized focus on the life of white, wealthy, Republican transgender reality TV star and former Olympian, Caitlyn Jenner, have obscured the struggles of the majority of trans people. Despite Jenner's privileged reality, transgender people as a whole are four times more likely to live in poverty, and face disproportionate criminalization when they encounter law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Mainstream media coverage of each of this year's trans fatalities has involved pernicious transphobic reporting, that was often not corrected even after a victim's transgender identification was made public. All four trans people killed this year were misgendered and deadnamed -- a term referring to the insistence on using a trans person's former name or pronoun, despite that individual's stated wishes -- in mainstream reporting.

The Philadelphia Police Department is offering a $20,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest or conviction of the murderer of Young. Individuals may call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or 911.

A friend of Cano named Beth Balderas has set up at GoFundMe page to gather donations for a proper burial for Cano and to assist her family in the wake of her passing.

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Cleis Abeni

Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.
Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.