Earlier this week, we reported on the tragic shooting death of 22-year-old Jasmine Cannady and younger brother, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, in Ambridge, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. At that time, we noted that JJ identified as a trans male teen, having begun his transition at age 12. He was 16 at the time of his death.
Since then, we have been able to confirm that Jasmine was also part of the trans community. Jazzy, as her friends refer to her, identified as nonbinary and used both she/her and they/them pronouns. While trying to confirm this information, I opted use to gender neutral terms to describe Jasmine to avoid disrespecting her identity in my original posts.
The term “transgender” covers many different gender identities, such as non-binary, gender fluid, agender, genderqueer, trans man, trans woman, or simply just trans.
So we are using transgender or trans as an umbrella term for the purposes of putting three homicides into context, but also emphasizing that Jasmine specifically identied as nonbinary. We don’t know if Chyna or JJ identified as nonbinary.
Non-binary (also spelled nonbinary) or genderqueer is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities that are outside the gender binary. Non-binary identities can fall under the transgender umbrella, since many non-binary people identify with a gender that is different from their assigned sex. Another term for non-binary is enby (from the abbreviation ‘NB’)
Losing three young BIPOC persons of transgender experience (under the umbrella term trans) to violent deaths in rural Western Pennsylvania over the course of five days is an unprecedented experience. Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community has experienced tragic losses in the past such as the 1987 murder of David Piergalski, the 2008 unsolved murder of Jamie Stickle, the 2014 murder of Andre Gray, the 2016 murder of Dalia Sabae, the community members & allies lost in the Tree of Life Massacre in 2018, and more. But I am not aware of violence of this magnitude in our region.
I am not suggesting that the incidents were linked or that the individuals involved were connected. I am pointing out that it is atypical for three BIPOC young trans people to be violently murdered in Western Pennsylvania. It cannot be a coincidence. What binds them together beyond their identities is the geographical region where they lived and died.
I also want to be very specific about this – no one has claimed or implied that any of these individuals were targeted by their killers BECAUSE of their trans identities. The situations are very different – there is a huge distinction to be made between a known murderer killing a second woman and a mother struggling with PTSD (and perhaps more) who makes a mind-boggling decision to shoot her own children.
And we should be very careful with this pain and trauma. Our region is awash in rivulets of MAGA believers spewing their toxicity into the air, water, and land with very few filters or protections, a figurative representation of their self-destructive attachment to coal, fracking, and energy deregulation. Racial injustice is deeply embedded in this region along with a legacy for denying our reality and burying our heads in the sand. At the epicenter of this whirling dervish of pain are our trans neighbors, especially Black trans young women. We have evidence of this both from relentless harassment of Dr. Rachel Levine, a white trans woman, and from the dramatic increase of anti-Blackness and anti-Latinx sentiments and violence from private citizens and from our government.
Their vulnerability to all of this should be our top priority, but I don’t expect it will.
;We are going to wail and fight over the Pride memorabilia effluent drifting down Galveston St. after the IRS and creditors strip the Delta Foundation building clean. We will refuse to do actual community building work, instead insisting on the cult of personality that has never, ever worked. We keep making the same mistakes over again, rather than stopping to take a thoughtful look at our community history (hint: that means at least 1968) in the context of what we now understand about queer identity, including the lived experiences of those in rural Pennsylvania.
I can’t fix all of this. I can simply do my best to document what I see for the permanent record. I see so much pain and hurt that most of us cannot see straight, much less make healthy decisions about how to participate in recovery.
Right now, though, I see a young nonbinary BIPOC person whose life was taken from them and whose legacy must not be lost in this narrative. Please consider making a donation towards the final expenses of Chyna, Jasmine, and JJ. It is the very least we can do.
Jasmine is the ninth trans, nonbinary or gender nonconforming person reported killed in 2021. All nine of these neighbors have been BIPOC. Jasmine is the first nonbinary person identified and the fourth youngest. In total, there have been TEN murders or suspicious deaths in the first 53 days of 2021, an average of one death every 5.3 days. So far. That we know of.
;Rest in power Jasmine. Your life and your authentic identity truly matter. You deserve to be honored and remembered for who you truly were and this is an important piece of your story.
May your memory be a revolution.
This is our list of transgender, gender-nonconforming, and non-binary neighbors lost to violence in 2021. Please do not copy or share this list without attribution.
- Tyianna Davarea Alexandra – Chicago, Illinois. January 6, 2021. Age 28.
- Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín – Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. January 9, 2021. Age 21.
- Dominique Jackson – Jackson, Mississippi. January 25, 2021. Age 30.
- Bianca ‘Muffin’ Bankz – Atlanta, Georgia. January 21, 2021. Age 31.
- Fifty Bandzzz – Baton Rouge, Louisiana. January 28, 2021. Age 21.
- Alexus “Kimmy” Braxton – Miami, Florida. February 4, 2021. Age 45.
- Chynaa Carrillo – New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. February 18, 2021. Age 24.
- Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright – Ambridge, Pennsylvania. February 22, 2021. Age 16.
- Jasmine Cannady – Ambridge, Pennsylvania. February 22, 2021. Age 22.
We are also still monitoring these supicious deaths from 20/21 (in addition to the 44 documented killings.)
- Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong – Lithonia, Georgia, November 11, 2020. Age 39
- Kimberely Patricia Cope – Athens, Georgia, December 27, 2020. Age 40.
- Natasha Keianna – Detroit, Michigan, January 12, 2021. Age 37.
- Bonaire ‘Bonnie’ Black – Atlanta, Georgia, December 31, 2020. Age 19.