Of course it is just 24 hours after I wrote about the murder of De’Janay Stanton that I am back at the keyboard blogging about another murder of a Black trans woman, this time an 18-year-old Vontashia Bell in Shreveport, Louisiana. And my heart is broken for a second time in two days.
She was found August 30th with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Police responding to a shots fired call early Thursday morning found her lying in the street at the corner of Harrison Street and Linwood Avenue in the Cedar Park neighborhood suffering from gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist.
She was rushed to University Health Hospital where she later died from her wounds.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 318-673-6955. To give information anonymously, you can call 318-673-7373. They’re offering a $1,000.00 reward for information that would lead to an arrest.
And Vontashia was misgendered and deadnamed by both the Louisiana law enforcement responding to her death and by the Louisiana media.
Monica Roberts takes the time to put each person’s life and death in context of the ongoing epidemic. It is so overwhelming to read all of these posts that her work is critical to help us stay effective and supportive in our response.
Bell is sadly the youngest person we have lost to anti-trans violence in 2018. She is the 18th trans person murdered in the United States in 2018, and the 14th African American trans person we have lost to anti-trans violence. What pisses me off in addition to the media misgendering of her is that she is now the ninth trans person under age 30 we have lost to anti-trans violence
She was 18 years old, just a kid. She’s stripped of her life and her dignity and her identity by a world that cannot simply let her flourish free of hate or discrimination.
I’ve never come across a political candidate taking time to acknowledge this epidemic of violence. I’m not familiar with this man, Ryan Trundle, but he’s running for Congress in the district representing Shreveport, Louisiana. And he took the time to speak out about Vontashia’s life and death.
Louisiana has the highest rate of anti-transgender violence in the country. Hate is not a family value and should never ever be encouraged by politicians. When elected I will, as always, respect and protect everyone regardless of their race, gender, religion, orientation, age or disability. #StopHate #ChoseLove#BeTheChange #PeopleFirst
In the past five years of writing these posts, I’ve never seen that before. And maybe that’s what we need to see as a change – we need more people to say something, to listen and to acknowledge. We need more people to do more than post a sad face and send wishes for resting in peace.
I’m often asked “What can we do?” and I redirect people to the many Black trans women who actually have answers and plans and programs in place. That’s what you can do – pay attention and use your Google to find resources led by Black trans women in your community. Then invest your time and talent. And your money. For more suggestions, read this post.
Rest in power, Vontashia. You deserved a life filled with joy and contentment and beauty and so many, many more years. I hope you find peace and promise that there are many folks here who continue to strive for a more just world.
This is my list of trans neighbors we have lost to violent deaths in the US this year. These are the reported names; there are surely more.
- Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
- Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
- Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
- Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
- Phylicia Mitchell – Cleveland (February 23), 46 years old
- Zakaria Fry – Stanley, New Mexico (February 19), 28 years old
- Amia Tyrae Berryman – Baton Rouge (March 26), 28 years old
- Sasha Wall – Chesterfield, South Carolina (April 1), 29 years old
- Karla Patricia Pavon-Flores – Dallas (May 9), 26 years old
- Nino Fortson – Atlanta (May 13), 36 yeas old
- Gigi Pierce – Portland (May 21), 28 years old
- Antash’a English – Jacksonville (June 1), 38 years old
- Cathalina Christina James – Jacksonville (June 24), 24 years old
- Keisha Wells – Cleveland (June 24), 58 years old
- Sasha Garden – Orange County, Florida (July 19), 27 years old
- Diamond Stephens – Meridian, Mississippi (June 18) 39 years old
- Dejanay Stanton – Chicago (August 30) 24 years old
- Vontashia Bell – Shreveport (August 30) 18 years old