Keanna Mattel, 35, is 24th Trans Neighbor Murdered in the US during 2018

I learned terrible news tonight from Detroit where a 35 year old Black trans woman was murdered Friday morning, the 24th transgender victim of fatal violence in the US this year. Her name was Keanna Mattel.

Note that Keanna’s surname has been spelled with one ‘l’ and with two. We are using the spelling on her Facebook page.

Keanna was found dead in her Palmer Park neighborhood Friday morning, the victim of a gunshot wound. INTO reported:

Detroit Police Department spokesperson Dan Donakowski declined to identify Mattel. Instead, friends and LGBTQ advocates spread word of her passing through the grapevine. Donakowski did confirm that police found the body of a transgender female at 6 a.m. on East McNichols Road between Brush and Omira on Detroit’s East Side.

Police have arrested a 46-year-old male in connection with the shooting, said Donakowski. He would not release the identity of that person.

Keanna was active in Detroit’s ball scene and a member of the Legendary Iconic House of Ebony. She was an activist who spoke with The Guardian after the 2015 murder of her trans neighbor, Amber Monroe.

Keanna believed the crackdown on sex workers was not useful or fair.

The police are unaware with our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” she told the Guardian. “Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”

We have to ask these we questions now about Keanna.

She also told The Guardian:

“The way we clean up our community is not to just throw people in jail,” Mattell said. “It’s to offer help, resources, jobs … helping girls get their GED.”

She continued, “The police ostracize us. They think we’re a joke. They don’t take us seriously.”

Keanna did not deserve to die. It seems we need to remind the world of this truth. Often. Police are treating this as a botched attempted robbery as they investigate.

LGBTQ advocates, however, declining to speak on record, said some who knew Mattel said she may have been picked up by the person who killed her, suggesting she may have been targeted.

It will be on us, her community and allies, to insist Detroit police investigate this angle. And those of us who identify as cisgender must ensure our trans neighbors have support and resources. Keanna told us in 2015 what needed to be done. We didn’t listen. Now it’s too late for her, but not too late to heed her advice.

There are no details of yet about plans for her final arrangements or vigils, etc. We will update as that information is shared.

In response to Keanna’s murder, the NYC based anti-violence project asks LGBTQ folx who have experienced or witnessed violence are asked to report to the Anti-Violence Project’s hotline at 212-714-1141 or online.

It has been just 11 days since I last wrote about the death of a trans woman in Baltimore.

Rest in power, Keanna. You deserved every support in the world, to be asked to share your own story and what you needed. I am so sorry we didn’t listen to you in 2015.

This is my list of trans neighbors we have lost to violent deaths in the US this year (2018.) We know that some deaths go unreported or undisclosed for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to transphobia. I ask you to take a moment to read this list – please don’t turn away. Let the enormity of this ongoing epidemic sink in. It is the very least we can do, honoring the lives and deaths of our neighbors. And ask the as questions Keanna suggested.

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
  2. Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
  3. Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
  4. Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
  5. Phylicia Mitchell – Cleveland (February 23), 46 years old
  6. Zakaria Fry – Stanley, New Mexico (February 19), 28 years old
  7. Amia Tyrae Berryman – Baton Rouge (March 26), 28 years old
  8. Sasha Wall – Chesterfield, South Carolina (April 1), 29 years old
  9. Karla Patricia Pavon-Flores – Dallas (May 9), 26 years old
  10. Nino Fortson – Atlanta (May 13), 36 yeas old
  11. Gigi Pierce – Portland (May 21), 28 years old
  12. Antash’a English – Jacksonville (June 1), 38 years old
  13. Cathalina Christina James – Jacksonville (June 24), 24 years old
  14. Keisha Wells – Cleveland (June 24), 58 years old
  15. Sasha Garden – Orange County, Florida (July 19), 27 years old
  16. Diamond Stephens – Meridian, Mississippi (June 18) 39 years old
  17. Dejanay Stanton – Chicago (August 30) 24 years old
  18. Vontashia Bell – Shreveport (August 30) 18 years old
  19. Shantee Tucker – Philadelphia (September 5) 31 years old
  20. Londonn Moore – North Point, Florida (September 8) 20 years old
  21. Nikki Janelle Enriquez – Laredo, Texas (September 15) 28 years old
  22. Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier – Chicago (October 3) 31 years old
  23. Tydie – Baltimore (November 26), age unknown
  24. Keanne Mattel – Detroit (December 7), 35 years old


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  • the US Constitution, nor the Declaration was written for us, it seems that any one that thinks different is held in bondage to the so call Govenment and the ones that want to see harm done to us and the ones that want to do us harm. Until you stand up and speak out nothing will ever change . Everyone has the right to live his or her own life as they choose

  • Keanna Mattel (Kelly Stough) was a beloved person, a precious human being. She was an only child; oldest grandchild; first niece; best cousin; and life-long friend. Her family is traumatized by her loss and the senseless, cowardly violence that stole her life. She would not intentionally hurt anyone … we often had to urge her to speak up for herself, to just say, “No.” She endured bullies and hateful people, folks who were unkind and indifferent. She just wanted to be and to belong. Then came a monster.

    But, we believe that the skilled, experienced, and professional members of the DPD absolutely know that our baby was murdered, simply for being herself. And, we will support them in the fight for her justice.

    Keanna’s family and friends will gather to celebrate her life and lay her body to rest this Saturday, December 15, in Detroit, MI. Thank you for sharing Keanna’s loss, as well as your efforts to publicize the fight for LGBTQ equality and justice.

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