In 2016, we had what is known as “the deadliest year on record” for the transgender community. Two months into the new year, we now have five transgender women lost to hate. On February 25th at around 8:30 PM, Chyna Gibson, a transgender woman and drag performer who went by the stage name Chyna Doll Dupree was gunned down while leaving a shopping center in New Orleans. According to friends, Chyna had arrived in the city in anticipation of Mardi Gras. Neighbors in the surrounding area reported that they heard as many as ten gunshots. Chyna was pronounced dead at the scene.
“..we are hearing about transgender people being murdered at alarming rate.”
Though further details surrounding her death are yet to be uncovered (beginning with the person who pulled the trigger), I believe we can safely assume her death was a result of transphobia. She was not an unknown name, nor did she live stealth, and add to that, the hateful atmosphere that currently fills the country. With the rise of blind hate in the new year following the shake up in the political world, it’s heartbreaking (and sadly unsurprising) that we are hearing about transgender people being murdered at alarming rate. At this time last year, we had already lost three transgender women and two transgender men. Though not all were murdered in cold blood, their pain, as well as the pain of those who loved and supported them, doesn’t end in death- newspapers and online articles still deadname and misgender the victims. The same thing happened to Chyna. The Times-Picayune, a New Orleans news site, covered the story, identifying Chyna as transgender, but using her dead name in the article, furthering, either consciously or unknowingly, the erasure of the T in LGBT.
I want to take a moment to remind my transgender bothers of something- as a white and very passable transgender man, I am afraid of what’s happening. But also as a white and very passable transgender man, I know how lucky I am. The most targeted demographic of transgender hate is transgender women of color. Don’t turn your back on your sisters- give them the same love and protection you would want for yourself!
In a time of fear and the threat of being forced into the closet and silence forever, we must remember to stand tall and stand together. Hateful actions can happen any time, anywhere, and to anyone. One way to show our strength is to remind the world that we are not our past. We will not let the names of our fallen brothers and sisters be forgotten- and I’m talking about their ACTUAL names, not the birth names they shed when they came out!
On January 1st, we lost our first of the year. Her name was Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow. On January 4th, we lost our second. Her name was Mesha Caldwell. On February 8th, we lost our third. Her name was Jojo Striker. On February 21st, we lost our fourth. Her name was Keke Collier. And now, on February 25th, we have lost our fifth. Her name was Chyna Gibson. Say their names! Say them loud! Scream them from the rooftops! Say them to those in your general vicinity! Whatever you do, don’t let the world think for an instant that we will bend and break and allow ourselves to be erased!