Crystal Edmonds, 32, a trans woman of color who lived in Baltimore died Friday from gunshot wounds to the back of her head. Crystal is the 21st known transgender person to be murdered in 2016 in the United States.
She is also the third person whose death I’ve blogged about this week and the second trans woman of color murdered this week.
I could share my rage about a monster who shoots someone in the back of their head and leaves them to die alone on the street. Or point out that we now have reached the same number of murders as the total for the entire year of 2015. Or even sigh a little bit about the underwhelming comments by the Baltimore PD.
Police are investigating her death as a homicide, and they are offering a cash reward of up to $2,000 for tips. They ask that anyone with information call Metro Crime Stoppers, (866) 756-2587, or submit tips online at MetroCrimeStoppers.org.
Mey from Autostraddle shared this in her coverage of Crystal’s murder
“We need to say their names and we need to do something to stop this. Take a look at these names, nearly all of them are trans women. Nearly all of them are trans women of color. Most of them are Black trans women. Many have been murdered by men who were sleeping with them or flirting them or felt some kind of attraction to them and then bought into the toxic masculinity, transmisogyny, misogynoir and homophobia that says they should react violently when they feel those feelings.”
Back in 2013 when I wrote about the murder of Cemia Acoff in Cleveland, I was shocked to realize how truly awful media coverage of the trans community was and how often the law enforcement procedures did not allow for the possibility of someone being trans. I was more shocked to realize that both of these common occurrences interfere in the resolution of the investigation because they distort the facts and create a false narrative around the victim’s entire life.
My response as a white cisgender lesbian blogger was to make a pledge to myself to write a blog post about each person using their actual name and gender identity as well as honoring them as human beings, not just criminal statistics. I’ve combed Facebook pages for real photos, connected with advocates around the country. I publish a list of all of the people murdered that year in each post to help readers have a sense of context. I used to try to blog very quickly because I wanted to create some sort of fair and balanced content that people could access in contrast to the inevitable terrible to poor coverage by the mainstream media. Back then, it was often Monica Roberts blog (Transgriot) and the Advocate as my only sources.
Coverage has improved in the sense that more LGBTQ outlets are regularly providing the quality, professional content we need and the victims deserve. Autostraddle and Elixher have been excellent. But coverage in local media veers from excellent to truly horrifying. Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD regularly provide factual tributes on their social media channels and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs also provides solid information to educate and inform us on this epidemic and more.
But I still plod along, writing blog post after blog post, even when it feels too hard and too overwhelming and perhaps too repetitious of other writing. I suspect that most of my readers are not trans women of color. I suspect that most of you are white, cisgender and possibly straight. Maybe you don’t read Monica’s blog or subscribe to GLAAD email updates.
Maybe you don’t know what is happening to our trans neighbors. And maybe it isn’t fair to expect trans writers like Monica and Mey to constantly educate you. They both often lay it on the line that we have to do something. My question now is – what are you going to do? I’m going to explore that a little bit in upcoming blog posts.
Because it is not getting better for trans neighbors, especially trans women of color. And it is our responsibility as their community and as their allies to do something differently as we move forward.
Rest in power, Crystal. Your life was important and valuable and ended too soon. We will continue to say your name to honor you and work for a more just and safe society for other trans women.
I will post updates on the criminal investigation and any related memorial events as they become available.
Here is the growing list of neighbors lost in 2016. Please take a moment to say their names.
- Monica Loera – Austin, Texas (January 22)
- Jasmine Sierra – Bakersfield, California (January 22)
- Kayden Clarke – Mesa, Arizona (February 4)
- Maya Young – Philadelphia (February 20)
- Suspicious death of Veronica Cano – San Antonio (February 20)
- Demarkis Stansberry – Baton Rouge (February 27)
- Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson – Burlington, Iowa (March 2)
- Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum (Kourtney Yochum) – Los Angeles (March 22)
- Shante Thompson – Houston (April 9)
- Keyonna Monroe Blackeney – Rockville, MD (April 16)
- Reecey Walker – Wichita (May 1)
- Mercedes Successful – Haines City, FL (May 15)
- Amos Beede (Burrlington, VT), 38 years old
- Goddess Diamond (New Orleans, LA), 20 years old
- Dee Dee Dodds (Washington D.C.), 22 years old
- Dee Whigham (Biloxi, Mississippi), 25 years old
- Skye Mockabee – Cleveland (July 30) 26 years old
- Erykah Tijerina – El Paso (August 8) 36 years old
- Rae’Lynn Thomas – Columbus (August 10) 28 years old
- T.T. Saffore – Chicago (September 11) 26 or 27 years old
- Lexxi Sironen – Maine (September 6) 43 years old
- Crystal Edmonds – Baltimore (September