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Boston Activist Jahaira DeAlto Latest Victim of Deadly Violence Against Trans Women

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday May 4, 2021

Jahaira DeAlto
Jahaira DeAlto  (Source:Screenshot/NBC10)

Jahaira DeAlto, a transgender activist in Boston, is the latest victim of deadly violence against trans women.

DeAlto, 42, was the victim of a deadly stabbing attack that took place in her home on April 2. She was killed along with another female victim, Yasin Chavis, who was staying with DeAlto, along with her husband and two young children, news reports said.

Yasin's husband, Marcus Chavis, is the suspect in the killings, which took place in front of the couple's young children, local news channel NBC10 reports. The children were not physically harmed, reports said.

WBUR reported that Chavis was on medication for mental health issues. Chavis claimed that he "woke up next to his bleeding wife, Yasin, and realized he was holding a knife." Chavis himself phoned police to report the killings.

DeAlto was active in the ballroom scene, Out.com reported, and belonged to the House of Balenciaga. DeAlto "became a legend for the category of realness," the site added, going on to relate: "In her subcategory, fem queen realness, trans women competed to pass for cisgender women. DeAlto's specialty was everyday realness."

The trans activist "described herself as a YouTube personality and social commentator," NBC 10 said, noting that "her channel, JahairasMission, had just under 2,500 subscribers as of Monday night," and adding that DeAlto "used the platform to discuss transgender issues and other topics."

DeAlto worked at the Elizabeth Freeman Center, "a Berkshire County support center for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault," the news channel added.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey posted at Facebook about DeAlto's killing, recalling that "Two years ago, I had the privilege of honoring Jahaira with an award for her work combatting domestic violence. She was a powerful voice for LGBTQ+ people and survivors.

"This is a profound loss for our community," Healey added.

Out reported that DeAlto's death marks "the 21st reported trans killing this year, putting 2021 on track to be the deadliest on record for trans Americans."

Her death follows the April 23 slaying of Iris Santos, 22, in Houston, Texas, who was shot to death by an unidentified assailant as she sat a picnic table, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

That same day, drag performer Natalia Smut was stabbed to death in Milpitas, California. The suspect, her boyfriend, turned himself in. Two days earlier, Tiara Banks, 24, an African-American trans woman, died when a gunman opened fire, killing her as she sat in her car.

Remy Fennell, also an African-American trans woman in her 20s, was gunned down in Charlotte, NC on April 15. Dominique Luscious, 28, was shot to death in Springfield, Missouri, on April 8 - mere days after the April 4 murder of Jaida Peterson, 29, whose body was found in a hotel room in Charlotte, NC. Both were trans women of color.

Latina trans woman Rayanna Pardo, 26, died in Los Angeles on March 17 after being struck by a car under suspicious circumstances.

23-year-old Diamond Kyree Sanders was shot to death in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 3, exactly one week after Jenna Franks was found dead in a wooded area in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Feb. 24.

Jeffrey "JJ" Bright, 16, and his non-binary sibling, Jasmine Cannady, 22, were both slain Feb. 22 in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

A few days earlier, Chyna Carillo was beaten to death by a 33-year-old ex-con, even as police officers ordered the man to stop. When he refused and continued to beat Carillo, police shot and killed the man.

Four trans women of color were murdered in a span of just under three weeks in various locales around the country, from mid-January to early February.

Bianca "Muffin" Banks died of gunshot wounds in Atlanta, Georgia January 17; Dominique Jackson was gunned down in Jackson, Miss., Jan. 25; Fifty Bandz, 21, was shot and killed in Baton Rouge Jan. 28; and Alexus Braxton was found dead in Miami Feb. 4.

Their deaths followed those of Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, a trans man who was discovered with numerous bullet wounds in Puerto Rico Jan. 11, and Tyianna "Davarea" Alexander, a transgender woman of color who was shot and killed in Chicago Jan. 6.

Watch the NBC10 news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. 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.