A Ceremony to Remember Transgender People Who Were Slain
November 14, 2008
by Jamie Tyroler
The transgender community, along with the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, is planning a Transgender Day of Remembrance event at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 to remember those who were killed during the last year. This Kansas City Day of Remembrance ceremony, back after a one-year hiatus, will be at Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, 205 W. 65th St., in Brookside.
The guest speaker will be Kansas City Councilwoman Beth Gottstein, who was instrumental in adding gender identity and expression to the city’s civil rights ordinance.
This ordinance is extremely important – not only for transgender people, but also for anyone who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes. I know several people in the greater Kansas City area who have lost their jobs because of their gender identity.
But unfortunately, laws do not prevent or reduce crimes against gender-nonconforming people. Even with legal protections, transgender people have difficulty in finding jobs that pay a living wage. In school, ridicule and bullying can force transgender youth to drop out. Many transgender people resort to sex work to supplement their incomes and that, unfortunately, often puts them in dangerous situations.
Now in its 10th year, Transgender Day of Remembrance is being commemorated in many countries.
I first became involved with the Day of Remembrance event in 2002 after reading about the horrible killings of three young transgender people: Ukea Davis and Stephanie Thomas in Washington, D.C., and Gwen Araujo in the Bay area of California. Their slayings, and many others of transgender people, are examples of overkill behavior. Davis and Thomas were shot at least 10 times each. Araujo was beaten with a frying pan and canned food, tied up and buried in a shallow grave in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range.
Here are the victims who will be remembered at the ceremony:
• On Nov. 21, 2007, Kellie Telesford, 39, was strangled in her south London home. She was found with the scarf still bound tightly around her neck. Shanniel Hyatt, 18, who said he had met her for a date and gone back to her flat with her, was found not guilty of murder.
• Two days before Christmas last year, Brian McGlothin, 25, dressed in women’s clothing, was shot in the head with an automatic rifle in Cincinnati. After plea bargaining, Antonio Williams was given six years in prison.
• Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz was attacked and stabbed to death in Santiago, Chile, on Dec. 28, 2007.
• On Jan. 8, 2008, Patrick Murphy, 39, was found shot multiple times in the head in Albuquerque. Murphy was one of Albuquerque’s top drag performers, known as Patricia, and was crowned Miss Gay New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association for 2008.
• On the same day, the body of 30-year old Stacy Brown was found in the Baltimore house she shared with her mother and sister. She had been shot in the head.
• Adolphus Simmons, 18, died from gunshot wounds to the leg and abdomen Jan. 21 in Charleston, S.C. A 15-year-old was arrested and charged with murder.
• The next day, a transgender person known only as Fedra was found lying face-up in a pool of her own blood in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Fedra had tire marks on her body.
• On Feb. 4, just before the 2008 Creating Change conference in Detroit, Ashley (born Michael Dionthe) Sweeney was found shot in the head and dumped on the city’s east side.
• On Feb. 10, Sanesha (Talib) Stewart, 25, was stabbed to death in the Bronx, N.Y. Reportedly working as a prostitute, Stewart was stabbed multiple times by an alleged john, Steve McMillan, who said he was enraged by discovering that she was a male.
• Two days later, the killing of Lawrence King, 15, in Oxnard, Calif., drew quite a bit of attention. He was shot in a classroom full of students by a 14-year-old classmate. Lawrence, who was openly gay, liked to wear women’s clothing and would occasionally wear make-up and feminine jewelry.
• On Feb. 22, Simmie Williams Jr., 17, was shot and killed while wearing women’s clothing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Williams, who went by Chris or Beyonce, was found at a street corner known as a popular hangout for transgender prostitutes.
• The body of a person whose name was reported only as Luna was found March 15 beaten to death and tossed into a dumpster in Lisbon, Portugal. The 42-year-old, who was from Brazil, was working with a multidisciplinary medical team that was helping her in transitioning.
• Lloyd Nixon, a 45-year-old transgender person, was hit repeatedly in the head with a brick on April 16 in West Palm Beach, Fla.
• Felicia Melton-Smyth, an HIV activist from Madison, Wis., was stabbed to death May 26 while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Francisco Javier Hollos said that he killed her because she would not pay for sex. The Gay Madison website (www.gaymadison.org) has this quote from Melton-Smyth: “What little bit of volunteering a person can do has a huge impact on our community. Sure, it’s easy to give a dollar to an organization, but putting time to help someone is an incredibly rewarding feeling.”
• Silvana Berisha was stabbed to death on June 24 in Hamburg, Germany.
• Rodney Whitaker, 20, who was called Ebony when she worked as a prostitute in Memphis, was found July 1 after being shot and killed behind a Southeast Memphis day-care center.
• Rosa Pazos, a transgender activist and anarchist, was found stabbed to death July 11 in her Seville, Spain, apartment. Pazos was considered a fighter, and she fought for her medical treatment, her freedom of speech, and to be treated respectfully.
• Juan Carlos Aucalle Coronel, 35, a Peruvian transsexual, was severely beaten, suffering fractures to his head and face, before being run over by a car on July 14 in Lombardi, Italy. News reports did not give her female name; she had worked as a hairdresser.
• Angie Zapata, 18, was found dead in her Greeley, Colo., home July 17 with two severe fractures to her skull. Alan Ray Andrade, 31, who was arrested in her slaying, allegedly hit her twice with a fire extinguisher, then stole her car. In a statement to the police, Andrade said, “I thought I killed it.”
• Jaylynn L. Namauu, a transgender woman, was stabbed to death in a car on July 17 in Honolulu. Joel Chris Allen, who owned the car, was charged with second-degree murder.
• On July 29, Samantha Rangel Brandau, originally from Brazil, was beaten, gang-raped, and stabbed multiple times in Milan, Italy. A 17-year-old Moroccan boy and a 19-year-old Italian man confessed to the crimes, which also included car theft.
• In Sacramento, Calif., Ruby Molina’s naked body was found Sept. 21 floating in the American River. The death of the 22-year-old is considered suspicious by police.