Why Was Minnesota Trans Woman Savannah Williams Brutally Murdered?

Trans Woman Savannah Williams
Via Facebook

Content Note: this post shares horrifying and brutal details about the murder of a trans woman of color in Minnesota. Read with care.

A brutal execution claimed the life of a 38 year old Indigenous Latina trans woman in St Paul, Minnesota. Savannah Ryan Williams was shot point blank after she allegedly had mutual sexual activity on November 29, 2023.

According to the Star-Tribune

Williams was left for dead and it was hours before her body was discovered Nov. 29.

Officers responded around 9 a.m. to a report of a person not breathing in a courtyard at 3023 4th Av. S.

Surveillance video from nearby buildings shows Williams and Bible walking toward the crime scene at 5 a.m. Bible left alone around 5:45 a.m., when witnesses reported hearing a gunshot from the area. Witnesses also say they saw a man at the time walking north from the crime scene along 4th Avenue toward Lake Street.

Savannah died of a gunshot wound to her head.

The man who murdered Savannah is 25-year-old Damarean Kaylon Bible. He has been charged with second degree murder. From the Star-Tribune:

Bible initially denied being involved, but when shown video evidence he admitted to shooting Williams. Bible told investigators that he walked past Williams, who was sitting at a bus shelter on Lake Street. He said that Williams asked if he wanted sex and they went to the nearby courtyard. Bible said he had a 9mm handgun in his pocket and he began to feel “suspicious” of Williams. After the sexual act, he shot her.

He called his parents from jail and in one conversation with his dad, Bible admitted to killing someone. Bible in the call said that while he felt sorry and wasn’t God, he “had to do it.”

A search warrant for his apartment turned up a 9mm Polymer80 handgun with no serial number and a .22 caliber rifle. Investigators also recovered shoes and clothing he wore during the murder as seen on surveillance video.

Honoring Savannah

Savannah was from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied at the ITT Technical Institute and had most recently been working for Amazon since 2018. According to her social media, she liked Nicki Minaj, Beyonce. and Drake, She also enjoyed baseball, acrylic painting, swimming, and animal rescue. She is survived by her husband of seven years, Courtney Matthews. He cherished her because “she was a very loving, caring person.”

Last week, family members told MPR News that Savannah was Cuban and Native American, descended from the Red Lake Nation. According to friends, Savannah was involved with Tea Time, a support group for transgender women, at The Aliveness Project. 

Her death has not gone unnoticed. Soon after her death, family and friends participated in a press conference at the State Capitol. Another trans woman spoke to the group.

“We have a right to life,” said State Representative Leigh Finke. “Savannah had a right to live; she should be alive. There is no other detail that matters. Being murdered and being murdered in the way that this happened is gruesome.” 

Finke used to go to Tea Time. She shares feelings of anxiety with the women here. 

Via Kare 11

The Crime

Here’s where I need to stop my usual format.

This 28 year old man picked up someone for sex and felt “suspicious” so he fatally shot her at point blank range. Then he says he had to do it. After he had lied about it.

The sheer audacity of his transphobia is breathtaking, even in this day and era of too much anti-trans violence. Even I am just astounded at this. He claims he accepted her offer of sex (this has not been confirmed) and then grew suspicious. Of what? We know what – her trans identity, with the implication being that having sex with a trans woman is often derogatory labeled a deceit or trickery, especially by individuals who are unable to reconcile their attraction to trans folx.

He claims he had to do it. Why? There’s no indication that Savannah posed an imminent threat to him or had a weapon on her body. Why couldn’t he just walk away, no matter the intensity of his feelings about being sexually intimate with a trans woman? Or any feelings he may have had. He could have literally walked away without murdering someone and go wrestle with his internalized homophobia and transphobia somewhere else, No one was compelling him to murder her. The only person he was defending was his own sense of self and I’m fairly confident he could have made it through. Or not, but Savannah would be alive.

He told his father that he wasn’t God, but had to do it. He wasn’t God, implying he had some moral code. God is the one who kills people at point blank range, but God wasn’t available so Damarean stepped in? Again to do what? To eliminate a trans woman for the crime of existing. An act that this God would approve of because Savannah was a trans woman.

Of course, he lied first. Like God would want? How does lying about murdering someone stack up against the perceived lie that drew his “suspicion”?

He also has possibly a ‘ghost’ handgun and a rifle at his home. He was either anticipating or preparing for something involving gun violence.

Still, none of this is new. These manifestations of anti-trans bigotry extend from the vicious rhetoric targeting school kids, libraries, healthcare providers, and every trans person on the face of this earth. This is what banning books leads to. This is what refusing to create safe schools leads to. This is what our barrage of policies and laws that deny trans neighbors their pronouns, names, safety, and their very identity leads to. How much more often do we need to connect these dots before the general public takes action to stop this campaign of terror?

Damarean Bible is the most recent horrific logical extension of the current trajectory of our society.

Our Collective Grief

Thus, the list for 2023 includes 41 names. Savannah is the 41st person on our 2023 list, surpassing the total lives lost in all of 2022. Savannah is the 32nd trans woman on this list, the 6th trans person of Latinx descent. She is the second person of Indigenous heritage. At 38, she is the second oldest person on our list. Further, a trans neighbor has been killed every 8 days in the US this year.

Finally, her death matters. Her life mattered and cannot be minimized by a desperate “trans panic” defense. Of course, that’s the systemic failure we can address collectively.

Rest in power, Savannah. Your time in this world is greater than this final news. I am so very sorry that we failed to create a safe world for you. Thank you for the joy, love, and inspiration you brought to the world.

May your memory be a revolution.

This is our list

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.

  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.
  15. Camdyn Rider – Winter Haven, Florida, July 21, 2023. Age 21.
  16. Kylie Monali – Riverside, California, September 7, 2022, Reported September 2023.
  17. DéVonnie J’Rae Johnson – Los Angeles, California, August 7, 2023. Age 27.
  18. Thomas ‘Tom-Tom’ Robinson – Calumet, Indiana, August 17, 2023. Age 28.
  19. Charm Wilson – Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 2023. Age 32.
  20. Bre’Asia Bankz – Arizona, September 5, 2023. Age 27.
  21. Alexa Sokova – Palm Bay, Florida, September 5, 2023. Age 30.
  22. YOKO – New Orleans Louisiana, September 19, 2023. Age 30.
  23. Codii Lawrence – Weirton, West Virginia, September 5, 2023. Age 25.
  24. Unidentified Person – Dallas, Texas,. July 2023. Age unknown
  25. Dolli Goins – Eugene, Oregon, August 10, 2023. Age 27.
  26. Luis Ángel Díaz Castro – San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 12, 2023. Age 22.
  27. Thaddeus ‘Tad’ Keegan Bradley – Mendocino, California, Sept 21st, 2021. Reported April 27, 2023.
  28. Sherlyn Marjorie – Albuquerque, Nex Mexico, September 17, 2023. Age 35.
  29. Chyna Long – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 8, 2023. Age 20.
  30. Skylar Harrison – Washington, DC, October 2, 2023. Age 30.
  31. A’Nee Johnson – Washington, DC, October 14, 2023. Age 30.
  32. Dominic Palace Dupree – Chicago, Illinois, October 13, 2023. Age 25.
  33. Lisa Love -Chicago, Illinois, October19, 2023. Age 35.
  34. Lovely Page – Chicago, Illinois, August 16, 2023. Age 54.
  35. London Price – Miami, Florida, October 23, 2023. Age 26.
  36. LaKendra Andrews – Dallas, Texas, April 29, 2023. Age 26.
  37. Kejuan Richardson – Toledo, Ohio, November 14, 2023. Age 21.
  38. Amiri Jean Richardson – Toledo, Ohio, November 14, 2023. Age 21.
  39. Jean Thomas Butchart – Belleville, Michigan, August 4, 2023. Age 26.
  40. Shandon Floyd – Columbia, South Carolina, November 8, 2023. Age 20.
  41. Savannah Williams – St. Paul, Minnesota, November 29, 2023. Age 38.
Trans deaths


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