Dallas police confirmed on Monday that a Black transgender woman was found dead on Saturday, floating in the city's White Rock Lake. According to the Dallas Morning News, the woman was 26 years old. The DPD will hold a press conference Monday afternoon, according to local news reports. It has not yet been determined whether the victim died as a result of violence.
The woman is the third Black trans woman to be found dead in Dallas since October of last year. On May 18, 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker, was found with a gunshot wound to the head, less than a mile from the lake where the most recent individual was found, according to the Dallas Morning News. Booker’s murder became the most highly publicized killing of a transgender person in recent history, drawing national media attention.
Four weeks before she was killed, on April 12, Booker had survived a brutal beating by a group of men who viciously attacked her, leaving her with broken ribs, a fractured wrist, and a concussion. Following the April attack, Booker spoke publicly to warn the public that this violence would occur again. She was right. Barber Kier Rice was assaulted at work in Killeen, TX, two hours south of Dallas, five days after the April attack against Booker. Booker was killed two weeks after that attack.
Ongoing deaths of Black trans women in Dallas have the community terrified. In an announcement following Booker’s death, the DPD warned the public of “similarities” between her killing and the two other violent attacks targeting trans women in recent months, although it has not at this time publicly established a formal connection between them. All four recent cases remain open and unsolved.
Violent killings of, and attacks against, trans women, particularly Black trans women, is not a problem unique to Dallas. In 2018, at least 22 transgender Americans were killed, and in 2019, seven transgender women have been reported killed so far, according to the Human Rights Campaign. It is also not rare for trans women to be killed in clusters.
In Florida last year, activists in Jacksonville raised concerns about a serial killer in their city following three consecutive killing of trans women in the area. NBA player Reggie Bullock’s transgender sister was found murdered in a northwest Baltimore alleyway in July 2014, one month after trans woman Kandy Hall was stabbed to death in northeast Baltimore that year. In 2015, Keisha Jenkins was killed by multiple gun shots along Philadelphia's Old York Road, an area known to be frequented by transgender women. Three years later, trans woman Shantee Tucker was also shot multiple times along Old York Road. And on May 19th, another Black trans woman, Michelle Washington, known as Tamika, died of multiple gunshot wounds near Old York Road.
Recently, the U.S. government has been introducing policies that place the transgender community at increased risk of violence. In Texas, the Republican-controlled state legislature failed to vote on House Bill 1513 (HB 1513) this year, as it has every session since the bill was first introduced 12 years ago. It would add protections against crimes committed on the basis of a victim’s gender identity or gender expression into state law.
If the 26-year-old is found to have died as a result of violence, she will be the eighth trans woman to have been violently killed in the first half of 2019, and the fourth to be killed or attacked in Dallas since late last year.