The 19th reported murder of a transgender American this year took place Friday in Kansas City, Kan., according to local activists.
Kansas City police and local media have identified the victim, who was shot to death, as a 20-something man and used a male name, but friends, relatives, and activists have posted on social media that she was a trans woman named Ja’leyah-Jamar. And a person of interest in the crime is a man who once dated her.
Adriana Sanders, the victim’s cousin, posted the following on Facebook: “Ja’leyah-Jamar didn’t ask for this life… No one can control WHO they love God made us to live and love and to grow… It’s not our fault as a Transgender woman or a homosexual man to want to live a normal life…wanting to be in love have a family build your own legacy and because a Man could not accept who he was as himself and individual he felt the need to take my cousin’s life.”
“Another Black trans woman was killed in Kansas City this weekend!” activist Merrique Jenson posted on Facebook. “Kansas City is one of the epicenters of violence towards trans women of color, particularly Black trans women, in this country! I learned of the information yesterday and have checked in with some of the trans women who knew her directly. While she is still being misgendered and misidentified by most KC media outlets, community advocates have already begun to share updates as we learn more. I encourage agencies with social, political and financial power to do something about this.” Trans woman Brooklyn Lindsey was murdered across the state line in Kansas City, Mo., in June.
Ja’leyah-Jamar was the parent of a 5-year-old daughter, Ja’Mya, local TV station KSHB reports.
Friends and family gathered to mourn Monday night at the scene of the crime. “I’ll never be the same. I’ll never be the same,” Jennifer Gibson, Ja’leyah-Jamar’s mother, told KSHB prior to the vigil. She called for an end to violence, saying, “Once that trigger is pulled, it’s too late. You can’t go back. Put the guns down.”
Police have released a photo of a man being sought in connection with Ja’leyah-Jamar’s murder, along with two photos of his car, The Kansas City Star reports. Officials believe he had been in a relationship with her, according to KSHB.
Of the 19 transgender Americans reported murdered this year, 18 have been black women, including Ja’leyah-Jamar.
The Kansas City Anti-Violence Project issued a statement on the crisis of violence against Black transgender women: “As we hold space to remember and uplift Ja’leyah, we must also recognize the factors at play that contribute to the dramatically increased risk of violence that trans women of color — especially Black trans women — face every day. Restrictions on basic needs and services like housing, employment, safe streets, healthcare, and protection under the law are just some barriers that put our sisters in harm’s way daily. The discriminatory and violent systems that perpetuate violence against transgender women of color are a direct result of bias from within and outside our own communities. Ja’leyah’s light shone to a select few, but we will let her light shine on all of us today.”
Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.
SOURCE: THE ADVOCATE