The very same weekend that Muhlaysia Booker was found shot and killed in Texas, another Black trans woman was murdered, this time in Philadelphia.
According to NBC Philadelphia, LGBTQ advocate Michelle “Tamika” Washington was found dead on Sunday around 5am after suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. She was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital.
Authorities say that on Monday, they arrested 28-year-old Troy Bailey for the murder of the 40-year-old.
Apparently, Bailey initially told police he was an eyewitness, providing “false description” to investigators, but then later admitted to killing Washington. He was later charged with murder, violation of the uniform firearms act and other offenses.
Now, Bailey is no stranger to breaking the law. Philly police revealed that he has an extensive criminal history, mostly consisting of domestic and sexual violence.
Facts about the case are still being investigated, but surveillance camera shows the two walking together prior to Washington’s death. It’s unknown how long the two knew each other, ABC News reported.
“The truth as to why Mr. Bailey murdered Ms. Washington may never be fully known,” Philadelphia police homicide Capt. Jason Smith said in a press conference.
“According to Mr. Bailey, it was over a dispute that the two had pertaining to the sale of a firearm from Mr. Bailey to Ms. Washington. We don’t necessarily believe that’s the case.”
Currently, police are not investigating Washington’s death as a hate crime, but that could change if evidence shows otherwise.
The city’s mayor Jim Kenney spoke out about Washington’s tragic death.
“Tragically, violence continues to disproportionately impact our transgender siblings, especially trans people of color,” he wrote in a statement, adding, “We must speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination our transgender siblings face.”
Raquel Evita Saraswati, chair of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, said that “our community is nothing without black trans women, and we will mourn the loss of Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington today and in the years to come.”
Washington’s friend Sharron Cooks told Philly.com that she was an amazing person who gave to others in her life and in her community. She also shared that Washington took care of her sister who had cerebral palsy.
“She had a good heart, and her life definitely didn’t deserve to end the way it did,” said Cooks, a human rights advocate.
A vigil will be held for Washington on Thursday (May 23) at 7pm at the Gloria Casarez Residence in North Philadelphia.
Washington is the fifth trans women, all African-American, to be murdered this year.
Last week, Claire Legato, a 21-year-old black trans woman, died in Cleveland from injuries she received during an assault in April.
As we have stated time and time again, this type of violence is not new or rare for transgender women.
While trans people only make up just .6% of the U.S. population, according to a 2016 estimate, they face disproportionately high rates of fatal violence. In 2017 alone, there were 25 trans murders reported, but it’s also believed that the actual number is much higher, Mic noted last year.
Most importantly, it’s trans of women of color bear the brunt of this type of violence.
Over 90 percent of transgender people murdered in the United States in 2016 were people of color with 70 percent have been Black, the HRC notes. Not to mention, being Black and trans in America can also means facing alarmingly high levels of systematic discrimination, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, suicide, sexual assault, HIV infection and incarceration.
Even worse, it’s estimated that the average lifespan for trans women is only 35-years-old.
It’s clear that we have more work to do when it comes to supporting and protecting our Black trans sisters.
Rest in power Michelle.