Ashanti Carmon was 27 years old when she was shot to death Saturday, March 30 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Details are unconfirmed. I’ve updated her age and details of relationship status based on reporting from The Washington Blade. There are no updates from the investigation.
Check out @TransEquality’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/TransEquality/status/1112357749604651008?s=09
Fairmount Heights police said they responded to the area of Aspen and Jost streets around 6:23 a.m. after receiving numerous calls for shots fired. At the scene, a transgender woman was located and pronounced dead at the scene after being shot multiple times.
We have no proof Ashanti was engaged in sex work when she was murdered, nor any information on why she was shot at all. If she was a sex worker, how does that lessen the tragedy of being murdered? A young Black woman is shot multiple times and left to die on the ground, but our concern is about her moral fiber? WTF is wrong with us? Making sense of this ongoing nightmare of transphobic violence should center the humanity of our trans neighbors, not the self-righteousness of those adjacent to the violence.
In fact, Ashanti’s friends claim that she was not involved in sex work and was not known to spend time in the area where she was shot. It is an important distinction because a clear picture of her life and the events of that last evening are necessary to find her killer. It is important for everyone’s safety to understand the reasons why they chose to take her life.
Her boyfriend, Philip Williams, told Fox 5 News and Channel 4 news that the two had been a couple for six years and were engaged to be married.
“I mean six years with her, that’s the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life other than being born,” Williams told Fox 5. “Everything just went on pause for me,” he said upon learning of her death. “I just couldn’t bear to be a witness to her going like this,” he said. “She’s too young. She’s not violent. She’s always a sweetheart, giving.”
Ashanti’s friends and colleagues at a DC based community center, HIPS, are organizing a vigil for her at 11 AM on Monday.
HIPS promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency.
There are mostly unknowns about Ashanti, but it is clear she will be missed. She didn’t deserve to die. Her life had value and meaning.
We do know this – Ashanti is the second trans person whose death has been reported or discovered in 2019. We know that she won’t be the last. In 2018, I reported on 24 similar murders. In 2017, II blogged about 25 murders. And in 2016, I blogged about 26 murders. Themes of deadnaming, misgendering, and family rejection wind through many of those blog posts. That is a reality. Stigmatizing sex workers is also a recurring theme.
Rest in power, Ashanti. On this day we celebrate and honor the lives of our trans neighbors, your death reminds us of how fragile and precious those lives are. You deserved so much more. Your death is not a moral pulpit, but a moral challenge to all of us to do better.
My list of transgender neighbors lost during the calendar year 2019
- Dana Martin – Montgomery, Alabama. January 6, 2019. Age: 31.
- Ashanti Carmon – Fairmount Heights, Maryland. March 30, 2019. Age: 27