Trans Woman Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28, of Columbus, Ohio Murdered By Mother’s Ex-Boyfriend

Rae'Lynn Thomas
Rae’Lynn Photo via

Rae’Lynn was 28 years old. She was a performer and loved fashion. She transition at age 18, according to her family. And she was brutally murdered in cold blood by her mother’s ex-boyfriend who lived in the family home. From

Renee Thomas said her daughter transitioned 10 years ago. Rae’Lynn’s aunt, Shannon Thomas, said Rae’Lynn was a performer who was dedicated to fashion. 

According to Renee Thomas, her ex James Allen Byrd was transphobic and often called Rae’Lynn “the devil.” Renee Thomas says Byrd repeated the word before shooting Rae’Lynn in their Columbus home. 

“He was in the bedroom and he just came around the corner and shot my [daughter],” she said. After two shots, Byrd grabbed Rae’Lynn and began beating her.

“He took a light away from all of us that we can’t get back,” Shannon Thomas said to WBNS. “And he needs to pay. He needs to pay.” 

A 6’2″ 260 pound man shot twice and then began to beat to death a 5’5″ 150 woman. He beat her to death in her own home, just feet away from her mother. 53-year-old James Allen Byrd is being held on a 2-million dollar bond facing a murder charge.

According to Columbus police, the murder is not being investigated as a hate crime. That’s absurd.  In the most recent reportHate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected Communities in the United States in 2015, BRAVO documented 71 incidents of anti-LGBTQI hate violence incidents in Ohio representing a 10% increase from 2014.

Less than two weeks ago, Skye Mockabee was murdered in Cleveland.

Hate based violence takes many forms – intimate partners, street violence, family members, classmates, etc. I was at Harrisburg Pride a few weeks ago and spoke with the folks from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They said to me that incidents of violence against the trans community in particular are on the rise throughout the state. We tend to think it happens in Philly, right? Not Harrisburg, not Erie, not Pittsburgh. I hope the stories of Skye in Cleveland and now Rae’Lynn in Columbus will be a sobering wake-up call that the lives of our trans siblings here in our hometown also are impacted by the hate and the murders.

Please forgive my poor writing in this post; I’ve been sick for two days, but I wanted to honor Rae’Lynn and make sure people know what is happening.

Rest in power, Rae’Lynn. May there be justice for you and may your life be an inspiration.

So we don’t forget those whom we’ve lost to these epidemics in 2016.


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