35-year-old Black trans woman Rasheeda Williams was shot and killed in Atlanta on Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Rasheeda was a performance artist known as Koko Da Doll and Hollywood Koko
Police reports indicate a person was found dead near a shopping plaza in southwest Atlanta. They confirmed a person was found shot to death at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW and Hamilton E. Holmes NW around 10:45 PM. There has been no official identification by authorities, but friends and family have confirmed Rasheeda was the victim.
Earlier this year, Rasheeda was recently featured in the award-winning Sundance Film Festival documentary “Kokomo City.” The film portrayed the lives of four African American transgender sex workers between New York City and Atlanta. She was also a rapper, releasing her first single “Trick” in 2020 followed by 2022’s “Bulletproof.”
Rasheeda is the tenth trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. She is the sixth Black trans woman, the ninth trans woman, the eighth trans woman of color, the ninth trans person of color, and at age 35, the second oldest of the 2023 victims to date. As of today, a trans person has been killed in the US every 11 days. Reported is an important distinction as we know there are more who go unacknowledged.
Rasheeda is the fourth trans person murdered in Georgia since December 2022. Black trans woman Destin Howard, 23, was killed in Macon in December 2022, nonbinary Indigenous person Tortuguita was shot to death in January 2023 outside of Atlanta, and then Ashley Burton, 37, in early April. And now Rasheeda.
Atlanta Police recently commented on the brutal attacks on three trans women in 2023 – it appears the first victim survived. They did not name Rasheeda, but the details match. And they don’t acknowledge Tortuguita’s killing by law enforcement either. But as a cluster, we can see a total of five trans people of color violently attacked within a two hour radius of Atlanta, only one of whom survived. Police say that their deaths are unconnected to one another and not legal hate crimes.
What people often misunderstand is that the legal definition of a hate crime is different from how we use that term colloquially. Everything American right now is dripping with anti-trans hate and bigotry, every system (housing, schools, churches, libraries), every occupation, every media outlet. This is a deliberate tactic by the rightwing to other one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the United States (and around the world.) But it is also a culmination of how we try to neatly parse violent crime from the context of the victim’s life experiences. It is a logical outgrowth of the mantra that women wearing provocative clothing or getting drunk or marrying someone are “asking for it” when they are assaulted. We don’t talk anywhere near enough about the intersections of poverty, racial injustice, housing instability, poor health, histories of abuse, and so forth are factors that are part of that person’s every move. Being trans in America right now means “asking for it” each time they wake up and that’s on us to resolve. We need to teach people, especially boys and young men, not to objectify and sexualize anyone in ways that are dehumanizing. We need to control access to guns. We need to reduce stigma around gender nonconformity or the fluidity of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Rasheeda’s fame will amplify this story and hopefully lead to an arrest and conviction, hopefully make Atlanta a little safer for other Black trans women. But it didn’t protect her from losing her life on a street alone at night. I can’t help but wonder if anyone was with her, if someone held her hand, or offered her any comfort.
Her family has set up a GoFundMe crowdfund to help with her final arrangements. It reads:
Koko was one of Atlanta’s finest and most loving transgender women. Koko had a heart of gold and spread nothing but love and light to those she came across. To know Koko is to love her, she loved her family and friends to the core of her heart.
Rest in power, Rasheeda. Your artistry and creativity are gifts that will continue to uplift and inspire people, especially other trans creators. You deserved to benefit from whatever would have next for you. We did not create a world safe enough to protect and cherish 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.
- Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland – Mechanicsville, Maryland, March 24, 2023. Age 18
- Ashley Burton – Atlanta, Georgia, April 11, 2023. Age 37.
- Rasheeda Williams – Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2023. Age 35.