My previous post about the death of Taja Gabrille de Jesus is not properly displaying her name. So I wanted to take a few moments to update you on what I’ve learned.
Taja was a Latina trans woman who lived in San Francisco, originally from San Jose. She worked with a trans organization called TRANS: THRIVE which serves the local transgender community. She was 36 years old. She has many people expressing shock, outrage and horror about her death – she was loved by many. She volunteered at a community food pantry. She liked Prince and Madonna. She loved living in San Francisco.
She is the 4th known trans woman of color and the 1st Latina trans woman to die a violent death in 2015 in the US.She was discovered stabbed to death on a stairwell in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Sunday, February 1.
Witnesses told police that the suspect was described as a 6-foot-1 black man wearing a black jacket and shorts. Anyone with information is asked to contact SFPD at (415) 575-4444.
A woman who identifies herself as Taja’s sister is planning a “die in” in front of the City Hall building in San Francisco on Monday, February 9 at 4 PM local time.
Seventy-two percent of the victims of LGBTQ or HIV-motivated hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women, and 67 percent were transgender women of color. In a country where many transgender people lack safe spaces to work, live, learn or even go to the bathroom, discrimination puts their very lives at incredible risk.
In 2014, NCAVP documented the deaths of twelve transgender women of color.
“Last night as Bambay Salcado, TransLatin@ Coalition President took the microphone at Creating Change to demand that transgender lives matter, and that specifically trans latin@ lives matter, we were learning of the tragic homicide of another trans latin@, Taja Gabrielle de Jesus,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project. “Four transgender women of color have been killed in less than a month and this is nothing short of an outrage, a national tragedy, and an epidemic. We all must take immediate action by supporting the leadership of transgender women of color, public awareness and respect campaigns, speaking out against this violence, and protecting transgender people from harassment and discrimination.”
Taja also experienced what we have come to expect – being misgendered in the original media reports.
What was unexpected and much appreciated is the interview her family gave about their loss of Taja.
“I was a young mother, and I was raised in a very traditional family,” Pamela DeJesus said. “But I told my husband that we had to accept her no matter what. We knew she was going to deal with discrimination in the streets, but not at home. At home we needed acceptance.”
She said of the killing, “I don’t know how anybody could do this. But I’m proud of how strong and selfless she was. That’s what brings me peace.”
My condolences and deepest sorrow is with the de Jesus family as they mourn their daughter. I cannot imagine their pain and grief. How good to know that they were a source of acceptance and love for her true self. I hope their love brings hope to other families struggling with rejection and a lack of acceptance.