A complicated tragic story involving the death of a trans woman of color in Bakersfield, California. From The Advocate:
Police found the body of Jasmine Sierra, a transgender woman of color, on January 22 in an apartment on the 1000 block of Monterey Street, according to a report from local TV station KBAK. Police say Sierra’s body showed signs of trauma and foul play is suspected. Whether the police found the body in Sierra’s home or a neighbor’s house is still unknown.
While police reportedly interviewed neighbors and witnesses about hearing gunshots and fighting, they won’t release further specifics about the circumstances of Sierra’s death. Calls to Bakersfield police were not returned by press time.
Jasmine experienced being misgendered and deadnamed by the police handling her case and the media initially reporting. These are part of the reason Jasmine’s death has not been widely discussed – her friends were unaware that she had died.
If you have information about Jasmine’s death, please call police at (661) 327-7111.
Jasmine died on January 22. It was over a month until the LGBTQ media published the story because they didn’t know. Kelli Busey at PlanetTransgender has a lot of details explaining the sequence of events (or non-events) as well as a sincere attempt to highlight Jasmine’s life, to humanize her.
Jasmine was 52 years old. Yet, only person left a comment on the memorial page for her burial. There’s just so much sadness that a human being could die a traumatic death and suffer so many continued indignities. And it brings home that even as we keep count of our losses, there are inevitably many of our siblings and neighbors whose deaths we don’t know about – because of stigma, fear and prejudice.
Jasmine’s friend and trans advocates held a vigil on March 12 in her memory. Note, the media linked uses Jasmine’s deadname.
Jasmine deserves better from us. We must continue to press law enforcement and the media to be fair and accurate in their work with the trans and gender variant communities. Along with being disrespectful and dehumanizing, it seems obvious that it could interfere with the investigation of the case. And who wants that? Who benefits from a world where the deaths of trans people go unsolved?
Not us, not the LGBTQIA community. None of us benefit when one of us is dismissed and discarded, put on a shelf until our truth becomes known. As our community ages here in Western Pennsylvania, it is possible that people may stay home more often and have less frequent contact with friends & neighbors. That happens and it is more likely to happen when someone does not have a strong network of supporters and family. And that’s more likely to be the case for someone who is queer or trans. So we also have to do a better job of taking care of one another.
We need resources, both time and money, for programs that prioritize connections with our most vulnerable – our elders, our homeless youth, and more.
And we absolutely need to prioritize supports and resources for trans women of color of all ages.
Rest in power, Jasmine. Your name has been lifted up and will remain in our hearts as we seek justice for you and all of our siblings lost to hate and violence.