26-year-old Zachee Imanitwitaho was a Black trans woman, born in the African nation of Rwanda. She immigrated to the US in 2019 and settled in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky.
On Friday, February 3, Zachee was shot and killed near her workplace at JB Swift in Louisville around 3 PM CST. Police found her suffering form multiple gunshot wounds. She died on the scene. The 58-year-old suspect left the scene and turned himself in to police. Employees at JBS informed police both the suspect and victim were employed at the facility. It is unknown what if any relationship they had or what motivated the suspect to murder her.
JB Swift is a meat packing plant.
Reports indicate that the company required all employees to finish their shift even after their colleague was brutally murdered in the parking lots. There’s also the abysmal failure of Louisville media to describe the gender of Zachee.
In what I can only describe as a vicious decision by the media and the Jefferson County Coroner, an “official statement” was issued Saturday, February 4, clarifying her gender identity – once they took her body to the morgue, they found “evidence” she was allegedly male. And they released a statement. They didn’t allow for the possibility that she was transgender. They didn’t ask her friends and family. They opted to instead make a spectacle of her gender identity just hours after she endured a violent death.
In no reality can I believe that medical professionals at a coronor’s office are not aware that gender identity is not a binary or that a person presenting as female may have been assigned male at birth. These are medical facts, science. They may have opinions on gender identity, but this is not about their opinion, this is about determining the facts around the brutal homicide of someone in their care. All they had to do was confirm with people who knew her and use the appropriate language. Instead, these disrespectful public servants made a mockery of their profession by acting like fools. That’s literally disgusting.
What’s next? Reporting on the intact hymens of teenagers? Disclosing any history of abortion or birth control? Disgusting.
A local journalist is reporting that the “standard practice” of the coroner is to use “facts” from government documents and in this case they used her immigration paperwork. So that’s absurd and still inaccurate. Why don’t they care about accuracy? And I don’t believe this rationalization. It is bs like this that contributes to the dehumanization of our trans neighbors.
According to social media, Zachee was a fan of Rwandan rapper Ngabo Meddy and African owned cosmetics companies. Her friends have described her as joyful and always smiling, even when coping with adversity and harm tied to her gender identity.
Her friends has organized a GoFundMe to help her mother pay for final expenses. It reads “Zachee was a light to those around her and we are memorializing her so that her light can live on after her death.”
Zachee is the fifth transgender and nonbinary person known to be murdered in the United States in 2023. She is the fourth trans woman. She is the second Black trans woman, the first trans woman of African heritage, and the fourth BIPOC. Zachee is the second immigrant. Her death means a trans person has reportedly died a violent death every 6.8 days in 2023. That we know of because many of these crimes go unreported (see the post about Destin Howard.)
So what will you do now that you’ve read this post and wept, perhaps quietly, for our neighbor? Will you volunteer with a local trans led program? Will you invest with a donation?
Will you send trans folx a sign that you are standing with them? Share this post? Will you look for the helpers in the trans community and follow their lead? Or will you keep scrolling? The world has taken a violent and vicious turn against the trans community in recent years and it is not enough to grieve the dead, we must protect the living. What will you do?
Rest in power, Zachee. You deserved many more years to shine your light on your loved ones and live your authentic self. Thank you for the gifts and joy you brought to this world. I am so very sorry we failed to keep you safe.
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 2023. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.
- Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
- KC Johnson – Wilmington, North Carolina, January 13, 2023. Age 27.
- Tortuguita – Weelaunee Forest, Georgia, January 18, 2023. Age 26.
- Unique Banks – Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 2023. Age 21.
- Zachee Imanitwitaho – Louisville, Kentucky, February 3, 2023. Age 26.
In 2022, we reported on the violent deaths of 40 trans and nonbinary neighbors in the United States. There were more, I know because I am still pursuing some of those cases. We are also updating as new reports come in dating back to 2022.
- Destin Howard – Macon, Georgia, December 9, 2022. Age 23.