Cashay Ashanti Henderson was a 31-year-old Black trans woman. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she most recently lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin before returning to her hometown. Milwaukee was where she died from a gunshot wound. On Sunday, February 26, her body was found in a burning building in Milwaukee.
One person was found dead from a gunshot wound inside a burning apartment building near 29th and Villard on Sunday morning, Feb. 26.
Milwaukee police said firefighters responded around 10 am.
It took only minutes to put the fire out. After clearing the downstairs unit, they moved upstairs. A search for hot spots revealed the victim’s body.
Police said the victim, 31, died on scene from a gunshot wound. Police said this was a homicide.
Someone shot Cashay and either set a fire to cover up the murder or set fire to the body as a further act of desecration. Or perhaps set fire to the building for some other reason, regardless of the fact that her body was in there. Or we could believe that on some random night, someone shot her and a completely separate person set fire to the building for some other reason. What do you think?
According to her social media accounts, she loved her godson and niece as well as her extended chosen family. Cashay liked makeup and fashion pages, hiphop, and restaurants. She attended Dunbar Vocational High School and Prologue Early College High School in Chicago. She was involved for more than five years with a Milwaukee group Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity (SHEBA) under the name Gemini Shanti.
SHEBA describes Cashay “as funny sweet and fabulous the time we shared in the Sheba space over the years. She was nothing less than a joy to be around supporting our girls and open to sisterhood.”
Cashay is described as “a great friend and great influencer in our community” by The Black Rose Initiative, a coalition of Black trans leaders in the Wisconsin area.
Cashay’s survivors – her friends and family – are tasked with addressing the anti-trans bias in the media reporting on her death, specifically challenging the misgendering and deadnaming. It is a terrible task that too many survivors must deal with because of the media’s unwillingness to accurately report on the lives or deaths of our trans neighbors. It is bizarre that an outlet will describe her as a trans woman, but refuse to use feminine pronouns. While I wish more outlets would use they/them until they absolutely confirm gender identity, that’s not what is happening – they just throw things at the wall to see what sticks instead of educating themselves. With multiple deaths in Milwaukee over the past year, I can’t help wondering if the media’s complicity in ignoring the humanity of the victims is a significant part of the problem. Cashay’s life is worth the time it would take to use a trans informed media guide. Right?
Cashay’s cousin has established a crowdfund to help with final expenses. They’ve set a modest goal of $4,000 so I hope we can reach it together to lift one piece of this trauma from their shoulders.
Cashay is the seventh trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. She is the third Black trans woman, the sixth trans woman, the fifth trans woman of color, the sixth trans person of color, and at age 31, the second oldest of the 2023 victims to date. As of today, a trans person has been killed in the US every eight days.
In 2022, three Black trans women were reported dead in Milwaukee. As mentioned above, Cashay belonged to a support organization alongside Mya Regina Allen. My heart aches for the trans community in that city – so much loss in such a short span of time.
Cashay was born on June 14, right in the middle Pride month. That fact sort of leapt off the page at me. We have a day to mourn trans siblings in November, we have a day to celebrate trans visibility in March. Do we have a time that’s about Trans Pride? If June is our high holy month as queer folx, shouldn’t we intentionally take time to acknowledge the most vulnerable members of our community?
Rest in power, Cashay. Your life was cut too short and we are all worse off for that horrible choice by someone. Your vibrancy and passion rebound through the grieving of your friends and loved ones. You had an impact and your legacy will be bound up in the endless support your offered your sisters. I am so very sorry that we did not create a safer world 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 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.
- Maria Jose Rivera Rivera – Houston, Texas, January 21, 2023. Age 22.
- Cashay Henderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 27, 2023. Age 31.
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.