It was the community conversation around the murder of Amber Monroe in Detroit earlier this month that brought to light yet another violent crime against a trans person of color. 25 year-old Ashton O’Hara was found brutally murdered in a field on July 12, 2015. Their mother attended the mid-August conversation with praise for the investigating police officers. From Equality Michigan
The body of Ashton O’Hara, 25, was found brutally murdered in a field in Detroit on July 14, 2015. Ashton did identify as transgender, and was genderfluid; he was still using male pronouns at the time of his untimely death. Ashton’s murder is the 14th reported murder of a transgender person this year, and the 12th murder of a transgender person of color.
Police have a suspect in custody, 37-year-old Larry B. Gaulding who is facing first degree murder charges with a trial that begins in September.
Ashton’s mother, Rebecca O’Hara, has asked the community to focus on Ashton’s life, not the ‘gruesome details’ of their death. She gave this statements to Equality Michigan:
Ashton knew exactly who he was even as young as 2 years old. He once said to his mom, “Mama, you are so pretty, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” By all accounts, Ashton was full of love for his family and friends, and lived life on his terms. He loved kids, he loved to dance, perform at the clubs, and he loved doing hair (he taught himself how to braid extensions at the age of 4!). He was so good that he could “turn a frog into a princess,” according to Rebecca. Sadly, even though Ashton had so much love in his life, he often felt alone, and that no one really loved him. “Maybe the kind of love he was searching for was to love himself,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca organized a vigil for Ashton. I was struck by the similarity to the family of Shade Schuler which asked a local trans group to cancel a planned vigil while the family is processing their death. It is comforting when families, however awkwardly, are active in sharing their grief with the community. It reminds us that some families do love and try to understand. And that’s far better than a person being swept to their hometown for burial under their old name in the wrong clothes.
Still, there is fear and outrage among other trans siblings who must also contend with this ongoing epidemic of slaughter and dehumanization. Their lives must be valued. Their experiences must be acknowledged. Their solutions should be funded, supported and implemented as an absolute priority by the major LGBTQ funders and organizations. We must stop this slaughter of our sisters and brothers.
So far in 2015, we mourn
Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, January 9Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk on January 17Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler TX on January 26Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, LA on January 31Taja de Jesus, 36, San Fran February 1Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans February 10Bri Golec, 22, Akron on February 13Kristina Grant Infiniti, 47, Miami on February 15London Chanel, 21, Philadelphia on May 18Mercedes Williamson, 17, Alabama on May 30India Clarke, 25, Tampa on July 22K.C. Haggard, 66, Fresno on July 23Amber Monroe, 20, Detroit on August 8Ms. Shade Schuler, 22, Dallas, date of death unknownAshton O’Hara, 25, Detroit, July 14