Last night I read this via HRC
Aaron Lynch, a 26-year-old transgender man who was shot and killed by police in McClean, Virginia on July 7.
Then I read this on Facebook
On May 19, 2022, Maddie, a transgender woman, Korean adoptee, and father of two young children, was shot and killed by Malvern Police (Pennsylvania) during a well-being check at their home. Maddie was experiencing a mental health crisis and had been struggling with mental health issues for a while. Instead of giving Maddie the help or support they needed, police fatally shot Maddie three times. The Chester County DA’s office has announced it is not indicting the officers responsible for Maddie’s horrific death.
Too many similarities – both trans, both living with mental illness, both having family and/or friends who hoped first responders could be helpful during a crisis. Both families suggesting The Trevor Project for donations in lieu of flowers.
It is hard to write a memorial post while sick with COVID-19, must less two posts about neighbors living with mental illness killed by people sworn to protect them. But I can’t turn away. I can keep this simple.
It still surprises me that people think calling 911 for a mental health emergency might not end up with someone being injured, much less dead. If they know the person, they have a familiarity with their behaviors, their escalation and perhaps might not remember that the police do not. Or that the concept of ‘mental health first aid’ for first responders is a band-aid at best. Factor in trans identity, racial identity, and transnational adoption culture and that’s a lot. Perhaps not for an experienced mental health professional to resolve peacefully. But even though we have ample evidence that police officers are rarely making great decisions during mental health crisis, their own or others, we still turn to them when we are desperate to help someone in crisis.
To be fair, I am also surprised that people still think police officers are trained to ‘shoot to disarm’ rather than shoot to kill. I blame TV and movies for that perpetual misunderstanding. Police officers are trained to kill. We shouldn’t expect these outcomes, but our disavowal of those realities continues to haunt everyone. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is in fact this way right now. If you looked at the firearms training schedule for a police department, factored in their other trainings, their other duties, the of number of times they discharge their gun on the job, and the dearth of trauma-informed recruitment of former military members to join their ranks … you might realize that we have it all wrong, on all sides.
It is a vicious, unrelenting cycle and the trans community is just one subset of a series of victims whose voices are usually not part of these conversations.
My wife is a 22 year professional internal affairs investigator of police misconduct so I have some more insight than the typical person. I don’t have answers, but I can assure you that she and her colleagues do – nobody asks. She’s a nearly 60 year old queer woman with a wife and other family members who are (or were) mentally ill, living with addiction, etc. But no one asks.
There are countless people around this nation who should be part of these conversations, who have data and facts and informed perspectives to shape a better way to enforce public safety when someone doesn’t want to be saved. I plead with whomever reads this – find different people to ask. I’m fairly confident that any experienced intake clerk for any internal affairs department in any municipality in the nation would have a lot of valuable information to share. Especially if that conversation also includes people living with mental illness, trans folx, and transracial adoptees.
I do not typically write about ‘officer involved shootings’ because it is clearly a conflict of interest given my wife’s job. But there’s nothing typical about law enforcement murdering citizens, although it does seem to be ‘normalized’ in our society and around the world. It seems ridiculous that someone throwing a wooden mask at a cop would end up dead or that someone screaming about their right to own a gun would not be acknowledged, but there you have it.
Aaron and Maddie deserved a world that supported them, not fed their demons. How does one watch any so-called ‘gun rights’ rally and not think screaming “I have the right to own this gun. Get the fuck away from me” is acceptable even supported by many law enforcement officers in most contexts? How does one see a mental health ‘co-responder’ turn out with police for a mental health 911 call not reasonably expect that to happen the next time? Is there a schedule somewhere of when that will happen or not? Are callers informed of this decision to co-respond so they can perhaps rescind their request that might not be so informed after all? Or is it simply the luck of the draw that the appropriate resources will be deployed to any emergency?
I know that in Pittsburgh, we no longer have a police officer in the role of LGBTQIA+ liaison. The last one left a few months ago and a successor, temporary or otherwise, has yet to be appointed. That’s dangerous. Appointing a civilian to that role is not sufficient. Appointing a cishet officer who is appropriately trained is better than nothing. Doing nothing is not acceptable. We have a District Attorney in nearby Beaver County who zealously tried to put a mother who killed her two trans children to death (unsuccessfully) but hasn’t put the same zest into the investigation of a bloody violent murder of another trans woman in a different corner of his community. That violent murdered is still on the loose and unidentified. How is any of this acceptable? Because it involves trans and queer people.
Rest in power, Aaron and Maddie. You deserved not to be killed. You deserved supports and medical research and trauma informed everything and multi-identity informed responses to your crisis experiences. We have failed you. I am so sorry. Your lives deserve to be more richly lifted up, you are both so much more than your final stories.
May your memories 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.
- Hayden Davis – Detroit, Michigan, July 25, 2022. Age 28.
- Marisela Castro – Houston, Texas, July 29, 2022. Age 39.
- Dee Dee Kandii Redd – Kansas City, Missouri, July 24. Age 29.
- Maddie L. Hofmann – Malvern, Pennsylvania, May 19, 2022. Age 47.
- Jasper Aaron Lynch – McLean, Virginia, July 7, 2022. Age 26.
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