Reporters covering the murder of TWOC Tamara Rodriguez in Kansas City have brought to light another death that occurred on June 23 but went unacknowledged because of misgendering. 32-year-old Jasmine Collins was stabbed to death, allegedly over a pair of shoes. From The Advocate:
Police in Kansas City, Mo., tellThe Advocate that a 32-year-old trans woman known as Jasmine Collins was murdered earlier this summer, almost two months before the most recent killingof a trans woman — also in Kansas City. Her death brings to 18 the total number of transgender women killed in the U.S. in 2015.
Media reports say Collins was stabbed to death following an argument over shoes.
Sgt. Kari Thompson confirmed details first reported by The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper. A woman named Tia Townsel, 33, has been charged with second-degree murder.
All of the initial reporting referenced Jasmine as a male using her old name. So her death went unnoticed by her friends and neighbors. Via The Guardian. Note that this excerpt uses male pronouns and her old name.
The small arguments didn’t stop Collins’s fellow street-workers from looking out for her, especially when the rumors started flying on 23 June.
Wade was out of town taking care of her sick father, but the text messages were ceaseless: did Jasmine get killed outside the Fast Stop? I heard Jasmine got killed behind the Fast Stop.
Knowing that the Fast Stop gas station on Independence Avenue was notorious as a place where any cop could “always find a body”, Wade said she called the Kansas City police homicide division for answers.
“Did you guys find a transgender woman dead body behind the Fast Stop?” she recalls asking the detectives. “And they’re like, ‘No, we haven’t had any bodies behind the Fast Stop’.”
So the text messages were returned with reassurances: she’s probably just out of town for a bit. The local TV station reported that a woman killed a man after a trip by Collins – Jermaine J Collins, according to court documents filed by the police – “for a haircut when the two began arguing over a pair of Vans shoes”.
For 10 days, the people looking out for Jasmine Collins on the streets – potential witnesses, potential victims – did not know she was dead. But when Wade returned to Kansas City and heard that Tia Townsel – a cisgender woman counseled at those same church meetings to get sex workers off the streets – had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder, she says she called the homicide detectives again.
“Hey, you guys got Tia Townsel in custody?” Wade recalls asking the police. “And they say, ‘Oh, yeah! She killed some guy down at the Bottoms.’”
“So I asked if that person was transgender and they said they didn’t know,” Wade said. “I said, ‘Find out.’ And sure enough – it was Jasmine.”
Jasmine appears to have been killed by another sex worker whom she knew. It is all the more tragic that she was known to her assailant, but not to the world.
“Court documents state Collins went to see Townsel for a haircut when the two began arguing over a pair of Vans shoes. Witnesses say the physical altercation started in the apartment and continued out in the parking lot.
“According to police, Collins hit Townsel over the head with a bottle of vodka. Townsel then retrieved the knife from her apartment that she used to stab the victim. Police records say that when Collin (sic) continued to yell at her, Townsel stabbed [her] and left [her] lying in the grass.
“One witness says Collins asked her for help and when she attempted to perform CPR, Townsel threatened her. The witness returned to her apartment to call authorities.”
KCTV reported Townsel is being held on a $240,000 bond.
Jasmine’s death means that the death toll of trans women increases by one. Some say it is 18, others 19 and others 20. It also means that all of our known numbers are guesstimates – we have no idea how many other women like Jasmine remain nameless because of institutional transphobia.
I am waiting for an appropriate photo of Jasmine to share – all I can find so far is a mugshot and that’s not acceptable.
Rest in power, Jasmine Collins. May your life and death be a permanent reminder to us to go looking for our lost sisters and never stop.
- Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, January 9
- Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk on January 17
- Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler TX on 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
- Mercedes Williamson, 17, Alabama on May 30
- Jasmine Collins, 32, Kansas City MO, June 23
- India Clarke, 25, Tampa on July 22
- K.C. Haggard, 66, Fresno on July 23
- Amber Monroe, 20, Detroit on August 8
- Ms. Shade Schuler, 22, Dallas, date of death unknown
- Ashton O’Hara, 25, Detroit, July 14
- Kandis Capri, 35, Phoenix, August 11
- Elisha Walker, 25, Smithfield NC, date of death unknown
- Tamara Dominguez, 36, Kansas City MO, August 17