Described by many as ‘larger than life,’ Semaj Billingslea (also styled as Semaj Bill) is the most recent victim of anti-trans violence. Semaj was a 33-year-old Black trans man. He was shot to death in Jacksonville on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the last full day of summer.
Jacksonville, Florida police responded to reports of a shooting outside Baymont Inn and Suites on Youngerman Circle East in Argyle Forest a little past 7:30 PM. They found Semaj alive with multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries. Note: many media reports misgender and deadname Semaj.
Some news reports attribute his death to broad statements about drugs, crime, and homelessness in this area, seeking quote from both candidates running for local Sheriff. These reports also misgender and deadname Semaj. These articles seem much more focused on the people this is happening around and almost indifferent to the people who have died – the people it is happening to.
Police have not identified a suspect and continue to interview witnesses. Anyone with information is urged to call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office or First Coast Crime Stoppers.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Semaj was a fan of Megan Thee Stallion. He graduated from Florida Youth ChalleNGe Academy and then attended Florida State College at Jacksonville. He was an entrepreneur who launched at least one local cleaning business. His social media feeds are filled with love and adventure with his friends, a vibrant life force that left an imprint on many people. He was unabashed about his faith in God.
His most recent Facebook posts include affirmations like “I tell myself everyday “stick to the plan everything gon fall in place” and “Sometimes things go wrong to get you rightTHANKS FOR STILL HAVING MY BACK.”
Friends and family gathered during a vigil Friday night outside the Baymont by Wyndham on Youngerman Circle. No word yet on final arrangements. It appears Semaj is survived by his father, at least one sisters, and a daughter along with family and friends.
Semaj is the 32nd transgender person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022. He is the 26th person of color from these neighbors respectively. His death means a trans neighbor has been murdered every 7.7 days in 2022 in the United States – that’s a noted uptick from earlier this summer. To date the victims include 19 Black trans women, 3 Latinx trans women, 2 AAIPI trans women, 1 Native/Indigenous person, 2 white trans women, 1 Black trans man and 3 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.
This is a terror campaign. Semaj is the third trans person of color from Florida to be murdered this year. Duvall Princess, 24, was killed on January 2 also in Jacksonville. Nearly 350 miles away, Nedra Sequence Moss, 50, was killed in Opa-locka, Florida in May. During 2021, four trans women of color were murdered. This is a terrifying time to be in Florida for any LGBTQ person, but especially for our trans neighbors – what more evidence do we need about the impact of the devaluation, the erasure of their identies by a bigoted Governor do we need?
Rest in power, Semaj. You deserved so much more time with your loved ones. You also deserve respect and dignity in death, not to be erased from your own narrative. Your family and friends clearly miss you deeply. Thank you for all that you brought to his world. I am sorry that 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.
- 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.
- Dede Ricks – Detroit, Michigan, August 27, 2022. Age 33.
- Regina Mya Allen – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 29, 2022. Age 35.
- Acey D. Morrison – Rapids City, South Dakota, August 21, 2022. Age 30.
- Semaj Billingslea – Jacksonville, Florida, September 21, 2022. Age 33.
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