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First Known Trans Murder of 2019 Reported

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Jan 11, 2019

It took less than a week for 2019 to see its first known trans murder. Continuing a trend that is now stretching into years, the victim was a transwoman of color.

Police in Montgomery, Alabama have launched an investigation into the Jan. 6 shooting death of 31-year-old Dana Martin, whose body was found in her car, according to local news channel WSFA.

Members of the trans community were quick to note Martin's murder and to spread the word. Social media users also called out the media for what they said were instances of news outlets misgendering Martin in early reports.

According to Into, a blogger named Monica Roberts was the first to call attention to Martin's status as a transwoman. Roberts made that report on the blog TransGriot, Into said. Roberts also tweeted about the killing.

The founder of Alabama-based trans advocacy organization TAKE (Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering), Daroneisha Duncan-Boyd, stressed that the victim identified as female. Declared Duncan-Boyd, "That's a sister, even though she's not here to defend herself," reported the Human Rights Campaign in a post.

The HRC has tracked trans murders for several years and noted that in 2018 "at least 26 transgender people, the majority of whom were Black transgender women" were murdered. That number fell just short of the 27 known transwomen to be murdered in America in 2017. But the official tallies might be lowballing the grim reality, HRC acknowledged.

"The justice system doesn't know how to handle situations where trans folks are murdered," the HRC post quoted Duncan-Boyd as saying." They always misgender, and when they misgender, it knocks the data off."

Updated reports at WSFA and a report at local newspaper the Montgomery Advertiser dropped any reference to Martin's gender and said nothing about her being trans.

In a report released last year, titled "A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018," the HRC took notice of some telling statistics. Only 22 known trans people had been murdered when the report was released; four more were to follow. But of those 22 victims, the HRC report said, "82 percent of them were women of color; 64 percent were under the age of 35; 55 percent lived in the South."

The report was issued just before the 2019 observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20. In December 2018 alone, two trans women of color were violently killed.

Hate crimes in the United States have soared since the 2016 elections. LGBTQ people — especially trans women of color — have been particularly hard hit.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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