UPDATED: London Chanel, 21, Eighth Trans Woman of Color Murdered in 2015

London Chanel Transgender
London Chanel via Facebook

Very sad news from close to home in Philadelphia – 21-year-old London Chanel was murdered early Monday morning and then promptly misgendered in the reporting. Fortunately, her friends weighed in quickly and the media updated their reporting. How sad that’s part of the ritual of mourning our trans sisters – fact checking the media.

A woman is dead after being stabbed in the back and neck by a man during a fight inside an abandoned North Philadelphia home, officials, family and friends tell NBC10.

London Chanel, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was killed in the stabbing that police said took place around 12:40 a.m. Monday inside a rowhome along the 2200 block of Ingersoll Street.

Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said an argument between Chanel and her 31-year-old alleged attacker sparked the deadly incident inside a middle bedroom on the third floor of the house.

The verbal tiff soon grew into a physical fight that ended with Chanel being stabbed twice in the back and once in the neck, according to Small.

The police have taken a suspect into custody. London’s friends have organized a vigil on Friday evening on Ingersoll Street. I’ll post more details soon.

Nowhere is the horrifying impact of this epidemic of violence against our trans sisters of color more evident than in the complex data spread of deaths in 2015. London is the 12th violent death in 2015, the ninth trans woman and the eighth trans woman of color.

Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, January 9
Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk on January 17
Candra Keels, 20, Rochester, January 18
Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler TX on January 26
Ashley Belle, 22, Atlanta, January 26
Jessie Hernandez, 17, Denver, January 26
Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, LA on January 31
Taja de Jesus, 36, San Fran February 1
Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans February 10
Bri Golec, 22, Akron on February 13
Kristina Grant Infiniti, 47, Miami on February 15
London Chanel, 21, Philadelphia on May 18
As I wrote in February:
I think we also need to acknowledge that at least six of these individuals were killed in domestic violence or intrafamily violence incidents: Candra, Ty, Ashley, Yazmin, Bri and Kristina. We need to have the conversation about domestic violence in our community AND the horrifying epidemic that is slaughtering our  trans and gender nonconforming sisters and siblings.

There’s no word yet on if and how London knew her murderer. One unique facet to this story is that London’s friends have been quick to paint a more robust portrait of her life and what she meant to them. Clearly, she was dearly loved and valued by her friends. And this is what should happen in a tragedy – a portrait of a life, not criminal records and mugshots.

A native of Victoria, Texas, about 2 hours northeast of Corpus Christi, Chanel came to Philadelphia several years ago and spent time living at Covenant House, a youth shelter and crisis center in Germantown, according to friends.

Seymore and Aileen Brown-Henry described the woman as a kind person who watched after them as they grew up figuring out life together.

“She was my heart and soul. She saved me a lot,” Brown-Henry said adding that Chanel helped her transition off the streets. “She was my only friend.”

“We are trans sisters. We shared a bond no one could understand,” Seymore said.

Chanel’s cousin Lennox Washington echoed the sentiments saying she “was loved by anyone” she met.

It was this weekend as I was following the breaking news in Pittsburgh as QTPOC are organizing to resist the Delta Foundation decision to bring Iggy Azalea to Pittsburgh Pride that I started to think that it had been quite awhile since we had lost someone. I knew it couldn’t last, but I hoped it might. I hoped for a bit more peace and rest before the onslaught of violence and backlash continued.

The reality in Pennsylvania is that hundreds if not more of our trans sisters, brother and siblings of color are living or spending time in abandoned houses with people up to no good because they have so few options. There’s a direct line between the oppressive tactics of Iggy Azalea and the violent deaths of 12 LGBTQ people this year. The rhetoric Azalea uses reinforces a cultural belief that some people are worth less than others.

Rest in power, London. You were a bright light to so many people and brought so much joy & love into the world. We will continue to work tirelessly for a world that celebrates you and your sisters.

UPDATE: London’s family has set a GoFundMe account to pay for her final expenses. Please note that the page uses her old name and male pronouns. According to activist Monica Roberts, London’s family had embraced her true identity.

She’d reconciled with her mother Veronica Allen, was in the process of getting her name change done and moving back to Texas when she was murdered

“She was going to go to court to change her name and then she was going to come home,” Veronica Allen said. “That’s what we were working towards, but that man took it away from me.”

If you can contribute, please do so.

Trans Women of Color

 

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