Cherry Bush was 48 years old, She was homeless, living in Sylmar a suburban neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley and is the northernmost neighborhood within the City of Los Angeles. On July 5, a 29-year-old man shot her after making disparaging comments based on her perceived gender identity (and sexual orientation.) She died the next day in the hospital.
The suspected shooter has been arrested and charged with one count each of murder and attempted murder, with a hate crime allegation, according to LA County District Attorney. The hate crime charges came almost two weeks after the shooting. Original media reporting repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered Cherry, describing her repeatedly as a ‘man in a dress” even while describing the hate crime charges.
We do not know many details about Cherry’s life right now. Her brother, Bob Bush, shared on Instagram:
“To my oldest friend, [sibling], and the ultimate anti-hero. I love you [ ] and I miss you.”
Cherry has a backstory. Photos shared by her brother on Instagram hint at a childhood with typical experiences, toys, activities, adventures, and family moments. Finding out why she was homeless may or may not be part of the narrative for us, but acknowledging that she was this whole person beyond one or two identifiers is very important. I saw one of her toys was something I also had in my own young life and those moments of connection are important to help us continue to resist the rhetoric that silences all of us.
I’m curious what ‘the ultimate anti-hero’ means.
Cherry’s status as a homeless person does not make her life less valuable or reduce the tragedy of her death. Her vulnerability as a person who had no housing is part of the larger narrative of how our society has left our trans neighbors unprotected on multiple fronts – their identities, their financial security, their housing, and more. Cherry was literally having a conversation when she was shot down simply because she existed. She did nothing to warrant such callous violence. Some reports suggest her murderer was targeting a bystander and just happened to react to her gender expression. A side serving of transphobic laced murder?
This is the violent world we have allowed to grow in the United States – where guns, racial injustice, misogyny, and gender identity are part of our everyday realities. Where we can bring hate crimes charges to the table while still misgendering and erasing, at least obscuring, the real lived identity of the person who bore the worst of the hate.
Cherry is the 23rd transgender person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022. Her death means a trans neighbor has been murdered every 8.7 days in 2022 in the United States. To date the victims include 15 Black trans women, 3 Latinx trans women, 1 AAIPI trans woman, 2 white trans women and 2 white trans men. The youngest was 17, the oldest was 50. Ten were 25 or younger. Their deaths come on the heels of 2021, the most violent year in recorded history with the deaths of 57 trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in the United States alone. Note that the tabulation includes a significant number of reports of folx murdered in 2021. This might be confusing. Of course it is confusing. I tried to sort it out below.
Rest in power, Cherry. Your life was important, deserving to be valued and preserved. I wish that we knew more about you. Your death reminds us to be more careful about how we move through this world. You deserved more years to do that very thing. I am sorry we did not create a safer community for you.
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.
As six additions to our 2021 list have been revealed in 2022, I am adding them in a separate list below to try and make any sense of this increasing horror. These folks deserve their lives and deaths to be honored and remembered. The complexity only underscores their realities.
- Amäriey Lèį (Myara) – Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. January 1, 2022. Age 20.
- Duval Princess – Jacksonville, Florida. January 2, 2022. Age 24.
- Naomie Skinner – Detroit, Michigan, February 12, 2022. Age 25.
- Cypress Ramos – Lubbock, Texas, February 13, 2022. Age 21.
- Paloma Velasquez – Houston, Texas, February 26, 2022. Age 29.
- Matthew Spampinato – New Castle, Delaware, February 9, 2022. Age 21.
- Tatiana LaBelle – Chicago, Illinois, March 18, 2022. Age 33.
- Kathryn Newhouse – Canton, Georgia, March 19, 2022. Age 19.
- Kesha Webster – Jackson, Mississippi, March 26, 2022. Age 24.
- Miia Love Parker – Chester, Pennsylvania, April 1, 2022. Age 25.
- Ariyanna Mitchell – Hampton, Virginia, April 2, 2022. Age 17.
- Fern Feather – Morristown, Vermont, April 12, 2022. Age 29.
- Ray Muscat – Clarkston, Michigan, May 8, 2022. Age 24.
- Nedra Sequence Moss – Opa-locka, Florida, May 14, 2022. Age 50.
- Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway aka “Sid” – Albany, New York, May 31, 2022. Age 30.
- Sasha Mason – Zebulon, North Carolina, May 13, 2022. Age 45.
- Brazil Johnson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 15, 2022. Age 28.
- Shawmayné Marie McClam – Gulfport, Mississippi, June 21, 2022. Age 27.
- Kitty Monroe – Memphis, Tennessee, June 29, 2022. Age unknown.
- Martasia Richmond – Chicago, Illinois, July 12, 2022, Age 30.
- Toi Davis – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 16, 2022. Age 34.
- Keshia Chanel Geter – Augusta, Georgia, July 20, 2022. Age 26.
- Cherry Bush – Sylmar, Los Angeles, California, July 6, 2022. Age 48.
These are deaths reported in 2022 and beyond.
- 52 Za’Niyah Williams – Houston, Texas. December 20, 2021, reported on Jan 5, 2022. Age 21.
- 53 Nikki Turrietta – Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 31, 2021, reported on January 27, 2022. Age 31.
- 54 Keeva Scatter – Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 15, 2021, confirmed on February 13, 2022. Age 34.
- 55 Rubi Dominguez – Brownsville, Texas, July 15, 2021, confirmed on February 13, 2022. Age 29.
- 56 Martina Caldera – Houston, Texas, December 6, 2021. Age 38.
- 57 Geri Judd – Bossier, Louisiana, September 28, 2021, confirmed March 1, 2022. Age 60