The Trans Obituaries Project: Honoring the Trans Women of Color Lost in 2019
This year, we’ve lost far too many souls to violence. As their deaths were shared with the world, their humanity was lost — reducing them to tragic statistics, empty platitudes, and talking points. We felt it important to elevate the group who is most impacted by the epidemic: transgender women of color.
Now, we honor those who have been reported as victims of violence with the obituaries they deserved. #SayTheirNames:
- Dana Martin [February 6, 1987 – January 6, 2019 | Hope Hull, AL]
“Dana didn't bother anybody, period. Everybody liked Dana and if they didn't, it was because they didn't know her,” Burnett says. “Dana was very quiet and reserved for the most part.”
Dana’s legacy lives on through her parents, Orlando and Jacqueline Martin; sister, Oriyanna J. Martin; friends, Cruz Burnett, Brittney Hill, Demarcus Simmons, and Stasha Nicole; grandparents, Ruby Collins and John T. Scollock; aunts and uncles, Evelyn S. Easterly, Annette and Malcolm Moorer, and Joe T. Scullock; great-uncles and great-aunts, Callie M. Johnson, Ailean Martin, Carrie and Willie Whiting, Lucille S. Jackson, and Larry and Louise Long; her pet Romeo Martin; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and community members.
- Jazzaline Ware [April 6, 1984—March 25, 2019 | Memphis, TN]
“As far as making girls feel better about themselves? I don't know if she even looked at it like that, but [she knew] when your hair is done, you have a better feeling about yourself,” Prewitt says. “You just feel more confident, you feel you can go and make things happen. She gave a lot girls confidence that they probably didn't have at first.”
Prewitt’s most cherished memory is of her and Jazzaline lip-syncing along to India.Arie’s “Video” in the car. Ever the motivator, she was known for trusting the power of perseverance and ambition. “One of her favorite quotes was, ‘Go, try it.’ She was a soldier. She believed what she believed in, and she would fight for what she believed in,” Prewitt says. “Jazzaline, I love you and I’ll see you one day.”
Jazzaline’s legacy lives on through her parents; brother; friend, Tamesha Prewitt; and a host of community friends in the Memphis area.
*Jazzaline’s cause of death has been determined as natural causes by Kansas City Police Department.
- Lorrissa Ashanti Carmon [June 8, 1991—March 30, 2019 | Baltimore, MD]
“[Our relationship] was always about happiness, never sadness. We were just right for each other,” Williams says. “Her personality was genuine and off the scale. It was just something I'd been hoping for all my life and it was the same for her in reverse.”
Early on, Lorrissa declared the "Love Like This” by Faith Evans the perfect upbeat song to describe how she felt about her Prince Charming. With Williams’ support, they eventually moved into an apartment of their own and she gradually began to find employment outside of sex work. Within the month of her passing, she would have started a new career as an airline stewardess.
“I miss her so deeply,” Williams shares through tears. “She just wanted to be equal and accounted for as a human being.” He misses her “heart of gold” the most.
Lorrissa was followed in passing by her friend Zoe Spears, another Black trans woman. Her legacy lives on through her fiance, Phil Williams; aunt, Deborah Carmon; her father, Gary Carmon; friends, Aniyah Dash and Keyonna; her cat, Lorissa, and a host of family and friends.
- Claire Legato Williams [November 9, 1997— May 14, 2019 | Cleveland, OH]
According to her friend Desirae Avery, Claire taught her how to turn any bad situation into a better one. “She was awesome to have around,” Avery shares. “She really was a natural-born-mother type.” Her friend fondly remembers how attached she was to Willow Smith’s “I Am Me,” and how it helped her come to terms with her gender identity.
Claire’s legacy lives on through her mother, Bridgette Brown; father, Talbert Glenn; six siblings, Heavenly, Jim’Maya, Bridgette, Jymar, and Destinee Brown, and Kel’vontay Bluford; three step-siblings: Shontia, Sommer, and Jaimie; 10 nieces and nephews; aunt Nekia Williams; two uncles, Raoullo (Octavia) Cloud and Deon’te (Tiff) Williams; grandmother Tracie Lynch; and a host of family and friends.
- Muhlaysia “Lay” Booker [January 14, 1997— May 18, 2019 | Dallas, TX]
“This time it was me, the next time it’ll be someone else close to you. This time I can stand before you, whereas in other scenarios, we’re at a memorial,” she said. “Our time to seek justice is now. If not now, when?”
Booker’s legacy lives on through her mother, Stephanie Houston; father, Peirre Booker; older sister, Pierresha Booker; grandmother, Debra Booker; best friend, Jessica Anderson, and a host of cousins, loving community members, and adoring Facebook followers. In honor of her legacy, Houston founded the Muhlaysia Booker Foundation, “dedicated to providing housing, advocacy, emotional support, counseling, employment resources, and training to transgender women.” For information, visit muhlaysiabookerfoundation.org.
- Michelle “Tameka” Washington [December 22, 1978— May 19, 2019 | Philadelphia, PA]
Tameka was a worldly woman who dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. She loved to read about different cultures, make jewelry, and collect rare stones and crystals. An avid animal lover, Tameka had a soft spot for cats and birds. “She always let the birds fly around her apartment because they weren't made to be caged,” Cooks says.
And alongside her air of groundedness was a hilarious prankster spirit.
Michelle’s legacy lives on through her mother; sisters; friend, Cooks; and a host of other family members and friends.
- Paris Laron Cameron [July 17, 1998— May 25, 2019 | Detroit, MI]
Banks goes on to describe her as “overprotective and very sensitive, but a fighter too.” Always down for a good time, Paris enjoyed hanging out with friends, listening to music, and twerking and voguing her buns off. She worked as a retail clerk at the Detroit Zoo, but dreamed of one day opening her own business and was on a journey to figure out exactly what kind.
Paris’ legacy lives on through her mother, Lakenya Carter; sisters, Keita Carter, India Johnson, and Amara Neal; aunt, Tracy Carter; cousins, Trevon Carter and Lemon; chosen mother, Bridget Dawson; first chosen mother, Sunshine Johnson; Banks, and a host of other family, friends, and community members.
- Layleen Cubilette-Polanco [October 4, 1991— June 7, 2019 | Yonkers, NY]
“If she didn't know you and she felt like you we were going through some things and if she could help, she would extend her hand out,” she says. “Whenever she walked into a room, it could be dull and as soon as she stepped foot into that room it just sparked off. She was just full of life.”
Brown remembers Layleen’s supportive nature as aspiring and believes that her love of people and animals would have helped her be a great doctor. Other loved ones remember her wanting to help vulnerable people, expressing interest in either being a nurse for elders or a correctional officer, ostensibly to take care of incarcerated folks. Overall, her greatest goal was to turn any difficult situation into a positive.
“I would like for people to learn from Layleen’s story to just be yourself. Layleen was never scared to be herself. Be yourself,” she says. “It does not matter how much pressure this world gives you, never let anyone mistake who you are. You be exactly who you are, and that's it,
Layleen’s legacy lives on through her mother, Aracelis Cubilette; sister, Melania Brown; brother Salomon Cubilette; nieces, Aliyah Brown and Isyss Cubilette; community mother, Ashley “Leslie” Chico; her best friends, Amanda Collazo and Ramon Monclus; the House of Xtravaganza, including her mother, Gisele, and her two daughters, Christina Yates and Alana Ramos, and a host of cousins and loving community members.
- Johana “Joa” Medina Léon [March 6, 1994—June 1, 2019 | El Paso, TX]
Joa’s legacy lives on through her mother; boyfriend, Diego; friend, Castro; and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Chynal Lindsey-Haslett [October 30, 1992— June 1, 2019 | Dallas, TX]
“I could just see [her] right here, right now, asking me dumb questions just to annoy me,” Lindsey says. “And then [she] would just giggle like, ‘I know the answer, I just wanted to make you mad.’”
When Lindsey founded Kids Are Truly Special (KATS), a nonprofit to assist homeless teens, Chynal expressed a desire to become a mentor for LGBTQ+ youth. “[She] said, ‘One day I'm going to help you,” Lindsey shares. “I'm going to work with the young kids, so that they don't end up making the mistakes I've made."
Chynal’s legacy lives on through Lindsey and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Chanel Scurlock [August 11, 1995— June 5, 2019 | Lumber Bridge, NC]
Chanel’s legacy lives on through her mother, Brenda Scurlock (Edward); five sisters, Kelia McNeill (Jarques), Aaliyah, Khayah, Tyionna and Cara Jackson; great grandmother; Mazrine Jackson; one god mother, Debora Galloway; one nephew, Messiah Jackson; six aunts, Deloise Matos, Virginia Scurlock, Angela Bruton (Leon), Mary Scurlock; Annie Scurlock and Rosalyn Jackson; six uncles, Willie McLean (Doris), Johnny Scurlock (Evelyn), Isaiah Scurlock, Henry Scurlock, Harley Scurlock and Rodney Jackson; and a host of cousins and friends.
- Zoe Spears [June 18, 1995 — June 13, 2019 | Fairmount Heights, MD]
Zoe’s legacy lives on through her mother; sister; chosen mother, Corado; and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Denali Berries Stuckey [July 1, 1990 — July 20, 2019 | Charleston, SC]
Denali’s legacy lives on through her mother, Andrea Stuckey; father, Darrell Brown; grandmother Catherine Brown; godfather Barron Lee; Judon and a host of family and friends.
- Tracy Single [April 2, 1997 — July 30, 2019 | Houston, TX ]
Tracy’s legacy lives on through her mother and a host of family, friends, community members, and Montrose Grace Place staff and volunteers who cared for her.
- Bailey Reeves [July 8, 2002—September 2, 2019 | Baltimore, MD]
Bailey’s legacy lives on through her mother; father; siblings, Thomas, Taylor, Savannah; half-siblings; cousins, including Chase; best friends, Lorenzo, Leah, Makayla, and Regina; and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Kiki Fantroy [September 28, 1997—July 31, 2019 | Miami, FL]
Kiki's legacy lives on through her mother, Comer; father, Steven Alexander Fantroy (Catina); sisters: Johniyah, Armani, Rayshell, Tiesha, Vernisha; brothers: Stephon, Alexander, Shemar, George, Deshon, Raheem, Cortney; grandparents: Patty Williams (Clarence), Garfield Leatherwood, Jr. (Flora); Aunts: Martena, Daphney, Kizzy; uncles: Roger, Jason, Anthony Jr., Ralph, Clarence Jr.; godmother, Michele Flint; special teacher, Wylene Stukey; best friend, Brittany Wilson; goddaughter, Aniyah Wilson; her adopted family: Theresa Higgenbothan, Taniesha, Chelsea, Kayla; and a host of other relatives and friends.
- Elisha Chanel Stanley [March 10, 1973—September 16, 2019 | Pittsburgh, PA]
Elisha’s legacy lives on through Corado and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Itali Marlowe [November 1, 1989—September 20, 2019 | Houston, TX]
Itali's legacy lives on through her mother, KaTonia Dortch; stepfather, Jeffrey Dortch; grandmother, Christine Mosley; brothers, Timothy Jr. (Shalarrium) Fields and Kenneth (Shannon) Marlowe; aunts, Derenda Corder, Stephanie Blacksmith, Tonya Marlowe, Michelle Rucker Seymour, Teresa & Catrina Thompson; uncles, Sean and Tevin Thompson; nieces, Timya Fields and Kahiyah Marlowe; nephews, Timothy Fields III and Chase Fields; cousins, NaTasha Mchaney, Torrye Guinn, Victoria Anderson, James and Shetonya Hunter, DeShawn Cotton, Gregory Mchaney, Brandon and Patrick Marlowe, Chasity Williams; friends, Zariam Shuler, Lia Williams, Brittany Anthony, Jamonta and LaShunda Moore, Nicole Prince, Richard Dennis, Jalessa Jennings and Asia Stevenson.
- Brooklyn Lindsey [March 2, 1987—June 25, 2019 | Kansas City, MO]
Brooklyn's legacy lives on through Johnson and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Bee Love Slater [September 11, 1997—September 4, 2019 | Pahokee, FL]
Bee's legacy lives on through Williams, Jones, and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Bre’onna “BB” Hill [March 24, 1989—October 14, 2019 | Kansas City, MO]
BB’s legacy lives on through Seymour, Chris Wade, Miss Rudy, and a host of friends and community members.
- Pebbles LaDime Doe [November 16, 1994—August 4, 2019 | Allendale, SC]
Pebbles' legacy lives on through her mother, Saab, aunt, Karen Elias; and a host of family, friends, and community members.
- Bubba Walker [May 8, 1964—July 27, 2019 | Charlotte, NC]
Bubba’s legacy lives on through a host of family, friends, and community members.
*Since publication, it has been clarified by Charlotte Police Department that Bubba’s death is not being investigated as a homicide.
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#TransIsBeautiful #TransRightsAreHumanRights #WontBeErased #SayTheirNames #TDOR #TransgenderDayOfRemembrance #TransWeek #LiveColorfully #BlackTransLivesMatter #StopKillingBlackTransWomen #LiveColorfully by way of TransSafeSpace.network Facebook Page
This story is a part of the 2019 Out 100 Trans Obituaries Project. Read the full package here. This piece was originally published in this year’s Out 100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.
Illustrations by Jacob Stead.