Za’Niyah Williams was a 21-year-old Black trans woman. She was born in Pasadena, California and most recently lived in Houston, Texas.
On December 20, she was killed in a hit and run car incident in the Oak Creek Village section of Houston. Police were unable to identify her at first so she was listed as Jane Doe. On December 28, the blog TransGriot put out a call for information that would lead to identifying her. Her mother identified her later that day as Za’Niyah Williams. TransGriot was able to update their original reporting on January 5, 2022.
She was 21 years old and her final moments left her unnamed and unacknowledged for days during the holiday season. After being hit by two different cars, one of which killed her. This is such an unbelievably sad series of events for someone so young and with so much life ahead. It is also a clear example why it is imperative that law enforcement and the media report accurately on crimes – Za’Niyah was found in women’s clothing – common sense should have the responding officials consider that her gender identity might be female. Or nonbinary. Or might need to be confirmed like her name and age. How much pain and suffering would families be saved wondering about their missing loved ones if we could just get this piece right? Accurate information, not guesses, solves crimes and keeps people safe.
Za’Niyah’s final post on Facebook was on December 19, 2021 and sadly prescient of her fate. She reshared a post reading:
This my last year letting ppl treat me like I dont matter. This my last year thinking that I’m not good enough. This my last year overplaying my part in people’s lives. This my last year watering one sided relationships/friendships. This my last year letting ppl deal with me at their own convenience. This my last year being depressed. This my last year knowing this version of myself. God please just cleanse my mind, body & spirit, shower my thoughts with peace and prosperity, & deliver me from Anyone/anything sent to destroy me.
Za’Niyah’s friends post that she was planning to celebrating her upcoming birthday with a trip to Miami, that she was starting college in January, and that she planned to become a lawyer. They reminisce about her high school years and share how much they love and miss her.
Za’Niyah was hit by a car around 2:20 AM in the Oak Creek Village area near FM 1960 Road and T.C. Jester Boulevard in Harris County. According to media reports that misgender the victim, police responded to a 911 call from a car that had struck her body already lying in the road. That driver stayed on the scene. Police determined she had been previously struck by another car and died from those injuries. There is no information on why Za’Niyah was in that road or what events transpired before her death. Police do report that they have evidence from the car that originally struck and killed her, hopefully enough to find the murderer.
How do you hit a human being with your car and drive away? The second driver stopped, saw her body, and called 911. Then they stayed at the scene. That is what you do. It is not rocket science. It is human decency.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Harris County Sheriff’s office directly at 713-221-6000 the case number is #2112-07879. No word just now on final arrangements, but friends have established a Facebook group to memorialize Za’Niyah.
Za’Niyah is the third transgender person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022. She is the third Black trans woman. All victims to date were Black trans women, all under the age of 25. Their deaths come on the heels of the most violent year in recorded history with the deaths of 51 trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in the United States alone. Za’Niyah was killed in 2021, but her death reported in 2022.
Rest in power, Za’Niyah. I hope you, Myara, and Duval Princess are finding some peace and joy and community together. You deserved to start college and become a great lawyer and simply to be able to grow up as your authentic self. I am so sorry we failed to create a safer world for you. You didn’t deserve any of this.
May your memory be a revolution.
This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2022. Please do not copy or share this list without attribution.
- Amäriey Lèį (Myara) – Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. January 1, 2022. Age 20.
- Duval Princess – Jacksonville, Florida. January 2, 2022. Age 24.
- Za’Niyah Williams – Houston, Texas. December 20, 2021, reported on Jan 5, 2022. Age 21.