Houston Mayor speaks at vigil for 28th trans person killed in the US in 2017
The Mayor of Houston has spoken at a vigil for Brandi Seals, the 28th trans person killed in the US in 2017.
Seals, 26, was shot dead in a street in Houston, Texas, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The victim, who was charged with felony prostitution in December 2015, was reportedly undertaking sex work in order to fund surgery.
Police have suggested Brandi was killed by someone after they realised she was a transgender woman, and not a man as they had thought.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and Police Chief Art Acevedo both spoke at a vigil on Saturday for Seals.
“We all have to keep standing because we’re still fighting against that type of attitude that literally is killing people in this country, and in this state, and in this city,” said Turner.
He went on to say he hopes Houston can become a city where people don’t have to live in fear of who they are.
Maria Cheeks, Brandi’s aunt, paid tribute to the victim, though she – like the police – misgendered her niece throughout.
“He was a loving person,” she told Fox 26.
“A beautiful person.
“I mean yes, he can pass for a woman, because he was just that beautiful. You know what I’m saying?”
Wiping away tears, the visibly distraught Cheeks added: “Whoever took his life, they have to answer.
“Maybe the police might not get you, but you will have to answer to one person – and that’s the higher power of God.
“You will have to answer to him.”
Houston Police Department homicide detective Fil Waters joined Cheeks in misgendering Brandi, using her dead name and saying: “The fact is that we have a man in women’s clothing.
“The speculation is he’s been working the street, that someone picks up and then realises he’s not what he’s representing himself to be and take this kind of ultimate action.”
Keasha Devaughn Speed, who went to school with Brandi, paid tribute to her on Facebook – though she also misgendered the victim.
Keasha wrote: “The fact that it’s someone that i went to school with and the fact that my aunt and uncles home and car had bullet holes shows me that this world is crazy and some ppl have no humanity…I’m praying for his family”.
“[Brandi] was a cool person and funny…we went to middle school. ❤️ #translivesmattertoo”.
2017 has been by far the deadliest year on record for trans people in the US.
Most of the victims have been trans women of colour.
Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31, was killed in Oklahoma at the end of November.
In October, Candace Towns was found shot to death in Macon, Georgia.
The 30-year-old’s best friend Malaysa Monroe said Towns was incredibly generous.
“If I needed anything she would give it to me.
“She would give me the clothes off her back.”
The body of Stephanie Montez, 47, was found by the road near Corpus Christi, Texas, also in October.
She had been shot in the chest, abdomen, and shoulder, the medical examiner said.
Ally’s death came just days after 21-year-old Scout Schultz, a non-binary, bisexual, intersex student at Georgia Tech, was shot dead by a campus police officer who had no crisis intervention training.
Since taking office in January, President Donald Trump has faced an avalanche of criticism for his treatment of trans people.
In February, he revoked protections for trans students.
And in August, he announced a ban on trans people serving in the military.
As well as Scout and Ally, September also saw the murder of trans woman Derricka Banner, 26, who was found fatally shot in a vehicle in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trans man Kashmire Redd, 28, was stabbed several times and killed earlier in September, allegedly during an argument between him and Doris Carrasquillo, who he shared an apartment with.
And Redd’s death came just weeks after Kiwi Herring was shot dead by local police in Missouri.
The murder of Dangerfield came just days after “comedian” Lil’ Duval went on the radio show the Breakfast Club and “joked” about killing trans women.
Duval, real name Roland Powell, said that if he found out somebody was trans after having sex with them, he would kill them.
In the same month, Jaylow McGlory, a 29-year-old black trans woman, was shot and killed in Alexandria, Louisiana.
41-year-old Mesha Caldwell was shot to death in Mississippi in January.
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, a 28-year-old who identified as trans and two-spirit, was found dead at her home in South Dakota in January.
Joshua Rayvon LeClaire has been charged with her murder.
JoJo Striker, 23, was killed in Ohio in February.
Tiara Richmond, also known as KeKe Collier, was shot in Chicago at the age of 24, also in February.
31-year-old Chyna Doll Dupree was shot and killed in New Orleans in the same month.
She was a celebrated performer in the community.
Ciara McElveen, 31, was stabbed to death in New Orleans two days after Dupree.
Jaquarrius Holand was 18 when she was shot to death in Monroe, Louisiana – again, in February.
38-year-old Alphonza Watson was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland in March. She was described as the “sunshine” of her family.
Chay Reed, 28, was shot to death in April in Miami.
Brenda Bostick was a 59-year-old homeless trans woman who was found with severe injuries in Manhattan.
It’s important to note that Bostick may not have identified as trans at the time of their death, according to the family.
Sherrell Faulkner died in May at the age of 46 after being viciously attacked in November in North Carolina.
27-year-old Kenne McFadden was found dead in April in the San Antonio River.
Kendra Marie Adams (Josie Berrios) was found in dead in June with severe burns on her body. Michael Davis has been charged with the murder of the 28-year-old.
Ava Le’Ray Barrin was shot and killed in Georgia at just 17 in June.
Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot multiple times in Virginia at the start of July.