In an ongoing epidemic of violence against the transgender community, two more black trans women have been murdered, both shot to death.
24 year-old Dejanay Stanton was discovered in an alley in Chicago’s South Side on Thursday with gunshot wounds to her head. She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police listed her as “Jane Doe,” but as news of her passing circulated she was identified by LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance.
Wade posted a message of remembrance on Facebook, saying, “we lost another sister,” and expressing a hope for peace and justice for her family.
“She was so sweet. Every time you saw her she had a smile on her face,” Wade told Windy City Times. “She was just trying to live her best life as a young girl.”
Friends are planning a balloon release tonight at 7:30pm at the site where she was discovered by first responders.
Also on Thursday, in Shreveport, Louisiana, 18 year-old Vontashia Bell was found lying in the street, with gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist. She was taken to the hospital but died of her injuries. She has been misgendered and deadnamed in media reports.
Bell (above) is not the first transgender woman to be killed in Louisiana this year. Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28, died in Baton Rogue, also from gunshot wounds. She too was misgendered and deadnamed in initial reports.
Louisiana Trans Advocates said in a statement:
Violence against trans people, particularly against trans women, is a plague that continues to affect our cities and communities across the state. City and state leadership must work together with the trans community to curb this violence.
Vontashia Bell must not die in vain. Her murder is a reminder of the current climate and national discourse on trans issues. Dehumanizing language and actions lower the barriers to this kind of senseless violence. Shreveport and Louisiana leaders must speak out against these killings, against the ongoing, systemic devaluation of trans people that pervades our media and politics, and against the institutional racism that places almost all of this burden on trans women of color.
As we mourn the loss of Vontashia, we must double down our efforts to ensure that all trans people across the state have access to jobs, education, housing, and safe neighborhoods.
The National Center for Transgender Equality responded to the news on Twitter, calling for an end to the violence against trans women of color.
Stanton and Bell are at least the 17th and 18th known transgender people killed in the United States this year.
In Florida alone, three black transgender women have been shot and killed this year, bringing calls for justice from advocates and fears that the murders might be the work of a serial killer.