Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman in Texas, shouldn’t be dead, says a childhood friend, who, six months later, still is seeking an explanation to why a man killed Booker, 22, leaving her lying face down in the street, reports USA Today. Long after the names of murdered transgender women disappear from social media feeds, their loved ones are still searching for justice and closure. It can take years for an arrest, leading family to often question whether the killings are being treated as a priority by law enforcement. In some cases, police and lawyers inflict further harm by misgendering and misnaming victims. Advocates say convictions do not prevent violence against transgender people in the first place.
Booker is one of at least 22 transgender people killed in 2019 who will be honored at Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils on Wednesday. She is one of four black transgender women who have died in Texas. About a month before she was fatally shot, Booker went viral; a video of a group assaulting Booker in her hometown of Dallas garnered thousands of views. The viral assault was followed by cyberbullying, as some accused her of orchestrating the beating to raise money. Three transgender women murdered in Jacksonville, Fl., in five months. Authorities impeded all three homicide investigations by misnaming and misgendering victims, says Gina Duncan of Equality Florida. Besides potential informants not recognizing a victim’s birth name and sex assigned at birth, the misindentification disrespects transgender people and their loved ones, she says. “A gap of trust is then created in that people are not going to come forward with information to talk to law enforcement,” Duncan says, adding that “law enforcement doesn’t get it … they don’t understand the transgender community.”