18-year-old Trans Male Teen Murdered in South Carolina

Jacob Williamson
Jacob Williamson via Facebook

For the past month and a half, Jacob Williamson had finally begun to experience his authentic life – socially transitioning and moving in with supportive friends after his own family failed to accept him.

Tragically, his steps into exploring dating relationships led to the worst outcome. Jacob was murdered in South Carolina. Last seen by family on June 30, Jacob’s body was discovered several days later. Police are unclear how long he was kept inside a home before being dumped on the sidewalk on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. Few details have been released.

Also in that last month and a half, Williamson began an online relationship with Joshua Newton from Monroe, according to Union County sheriff’s deputies.

They said Newton drove from Monroe to Laurens, S.C., to pick up Williamson for a date on June 30. Then they said Newton brought Williamson back to a home on Bethpage Lane in Monroe, where they believe he killed Williamson.

Williamson’s body was found on Mangum School Road in Pageland, S.C., roughly 7-10 miles from where deputies believe he was killed.

Newton has been charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, while his live-in girlfriend Victoria Smith has been charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact, according to the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Jacob was born in Laurens, South Carolina and most recently lived in the city of Gaston. Jacob had a job at a Waffle House and posted humorous video clips on his Facebook page.

The media reports are deadnaming and misgendering Jacob. They are also deeply focused on the issues of internet safety without any context that accepting and loving your kid is an important tool to keeping them safe. I’m all for internet safety, but I suspect that just gives people something to control in light of a 18-year-old being murdered instead of setting the standard that parents of trans (and queer) youth affirm and embrace their kids, that they take some training to understand gender identity and sexual orientation, that safety for trans kids usually ends at home. That’s the workshop we need – how to grow up and keep your trans kid safe even if it means upending your whole world.

Research shows that when transgender youth are loved and supported by their families, they are able to thrive. But when parents reject a transgender child or try to force them to reject the gender their child knows themselves to be, it can contribute to depression, suicidal behavior and other negative health outcomes.

I remember from 2014 when I first learned about the realities most trans youth experienced in Pittsburgh and where they ended up. The person who taught me those lessons has gone on to build amazing resources. But always emphasized the need for parents to step up.

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Yes adults killed Jacob, but adults in his own family rejected him and put him on that trajectory. And affirming adults stepping in face an uphill battle to undo the harm of rejection and denial.

“This world was so cruel to Jacob his entire life,” Edwards said. “I find peace in knowing that in the last month and a half, he found peace.”

Jacob is the fourteenth trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. He is the second white person and the second trans masculine victim. At age 18, Jacob is tied for the youngest victim.

We don’t know many details yet about what Jacob endured during those multiple days. And it will likely be hard to face. All these workshops needs to team up with PFLAG. Trevor Project, and other groups helping parents make better choices about their trans kids. The data is very very clear

2021 peer-reviewed study published in Transgender Health found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from adults and peers had significantly lower odds of attempting suicide in the past year.

Rest in power, Jacob. I am so very sorry that we abandoned you. You had every reason to expect better from the adults in your family. You deserved a safer world. I hope your story is a lesson that workshops on internet safety are not sufficient as long as cast out trans youth from the safety of their homes.

May your memory be a revolution.

his 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.  

  1. Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
  2. KC Johnson – Wilmington, North Carolina, January 13, 2023. Age 27.
  3. Tortuguita – Weelaunee Forest, Georgia, January 18, 2023. Age 26.
  4. Unique Banks – Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 2023. Age 21.
  5. Zachee Imanitwitaho – Louisville, Kentucky, February 3, 2023. Age 26.
  6. Maria Jose Rivera Rivera – Houston, Texas, January 21, 2023. Age 22.
  7. Cashay Henderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 27, 2023. Age 31.
  8. Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland – Mechanicsville, Maryland, March 24, 2023. Age 18
  9. Ashley Burton – Atlanta, Georgia, April 11, 2023. Age 37.
  10. Rasheeda Williams – Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2023. Age 35.
  11. Banko Brown – San Francisco, California, April 27, 2023. Age 24.
  12. Ashia Davis – Detroit, Michigan, June 2, 2023. Age 34.
  13. Chanell Perez Ortiz – Carolina, Puerto Rico, June 25, 2023. Age 29.
  14. Jacob Williamson – Pageland, South Carolina, July 4, 2023, Age 18.
Trans lives


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