Black Trans Man Tony McDade Killed by Police in Florida

The fatal police shooting we aren’t discussing involved a 38-year-old Black trans man named Tony McDade.

Tony was killed by police this past Wednesday in Tallahassee, Florida. He’s accused of stabbing another man to death immediately prior to being shot five times by a police officer.

His final Facebook live shares his plans to retaliate for a brutal transphobic beating he endured as well as his determination not to return to prison.

Tony had been convicted and sentenced on charges including robbery and battery. He had just been released from prison early in January after serving time on a weapons charge. He was arrested early in May for threatening a person with a BB gun that resembled a real firearm; he always carried such a gun, according to a police report.

None of that means he deserved to be killed.

From The Advocate

David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, issued a statement putting McDade’s death in the context of the killings of other African-Americans, including those who are LGBTQ+ or same-gender-loving, and seeking to raise awareness of hate crimes. McDade’s video showed “a horrific beating he received from five men because he is a Black trans man,” Johns said. “This tragic incident should be a reminder that hate crimes against Black LGBTQ/SGL people happen too frequently — often without the national public outcry that our cis and/or heteronormative brothers and sisters receive.”

“We don’t know a lot of the details around Tony’s death, or how police became involved,” Johns continued. “We do know that Tony should not have been killed. We must work together to raise awareness about the unique challenges that Black LGBTQ/SGL people face. It is important to highlight the too often ignored violence that members of our community face in addition to the discrimination we may experience because we are Black. We must also work to ensure that police officers understand they do not have a license to kill Black people, period.”

In death, Tony shares the fate of so many transgender neighbors, his gender identity and name cast aside in lieu of the wrong pronouns and names even among his friends and loved ones.

Tony’s death is tied to the murder of George Floyd and the killing of at least 11 other transgender individuals this year. We can’t neatly separate one from the others, not with any ethical credibility. We can’t say upstanding citizens are protected by their ‘respectability’ given the siutation of Central Park survivor Christian Cooper. Cisgender men are not protected. Women are not safe. Children are not immune.

It is our obligation to keep Tony’s name in the conversations.

Media outlet Them explores the circumstances leading up to Tony being shot five times when he was killed by local police, including links to video posted by observers of the shooting.

It is too easy to lose sight of Tony’s humanity and lived experiences as a Black trans man in the wake of his criminal history and the context of his final video framed as “suicide by cop” which should not even be a thing. We have to resist and remain focused on the inherent value of Tony’s life.

Rest in power, Tony. You deserved a life free of violence and filled with respect for your identity.

My list of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary neighbors who have lost their lives to violent deaths in the US during 2020.

  1. Dustin Parker – McAlester, Oklahoma. January 1, 2020. Age 25.
  2. Alexa Negron Luciano – Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. February 24, 2020. Age 29.
  3. Yampi Mendez Arocho – Moca, Puerto Rico, March 5, 2020. Age 19.
  4. Monica Diamond – Charlotte, North Carolina. March 18, 2020. Age 34.
  5. Lexi – Harlem, New York City, New York. March 28, 2020. Age 33.
  6. Johanna Metzger – Baltimore, Maryland. April 1, 2020. Age 25.
  7. Serena Angelique Velazquezz – Puerto Rico. April 22, 2020. Age 32.
  8. Layla Pelaez – Puerto Rico. April 22, 2020. Age 21.
  9. Penélope Díaz Ramírez – Puerto Rico. April 13, 2020. Age 31
  10. Nina Pop – Sikeston, Missouri. May 3, 2020. Age 28.
  11. Helle Jae O’Regan – San Antonio, Texas. May 6, 2020. Age 20.
  12. Tony McDade – Tallahassee, Florida. May 27, 2020. Age 38.


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