The recent deaths of three Black transgender people — one of which may have been a homicide, one the accidental death of a nightlife icon, and one an overdose — call attention to the challenges faced by this population, says the National Black Justice Coalition.
Newsweek and other sources have reported that a Black trans woman was found dead on a Brooklyn, N.Y., rooftop Monday; media outlets have not disclosed her name, but a release from the NBJC identifies her as Isabella Mia Lofton. She apparently fell from the roof of another building, but police are investigating the possibility that she was killed in a hate crime, according to NBJC. The release recommends calling police at (216) 749-1234 “to ensure that the investigation is fair and complete so that Isabella gets justice.”
Her family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to bring her remains back to Chicago, her hometown, for services.
“Nearly 30 trans people have been murdered this year that we know of, and Isabella is yet another example of a Black trans woman’s life being cut short due to violence,” NBJC Executive Director David Johns said in the release. “Black trans women face a disproportionate share of bias, discrimination, and violence compared to non-Black trans women and cis women. There is growing evidence of this fact and still not enough public discussion or action to address it.”
Another Black trans woman, Elie Che, 23, was found dead August 31 in another section of New York City — Orchard Beach in the Bronx. Her death has been ruled an accidental drowning. Che, who was also known as Ellie Williams, was originally from Atlanta, but she had lived in London for the past three years, where she became well-known in the queer nightlife scene, Patch.com reports. She had recently moved to New York and intended to complete her transition there, as she had been unable to access the treatment she needed in the U.K.
Che “was a poet, a dancer, a friend and an inspiration to many,” London Trans+ Pride said in an Instagram post; she sometimes performed at LGBTQ+ events. The group held a vigil for her Sunday, Pink News reports, and will dedicate its Pride march, set for Saturday, to her.
The third recent casualty was trans man KaKedius “Rebel” Reid of Stockbridge, Ga., who died of a drug overdose August 29. His family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses.
“Trans, femme, and nonbinary members of our community face additional challenges that can sometimes lead to misusing substances, which can lead to addiction,” Johns said in the release. “Barriers to support and care can make it especially difficult for Black trans, nonbinary, and queer people to get help, including medical/health care, when we may need it most.
“Anyone committed to ensuring that Black Lives Matter should be committed to protecting Black trans women and girls, femme identified members of our community, and nonbinary Black people. As we work to hold communities and our country accountable for being anti-racist, there must also be investments in fighting transphobia so that trans people can live freely and safely, as cisgender people so often get to do.”