June 13, 2019

It is Pride Month and we are all celebrating the power of the LGBTQ+ community, but my heart bleeds for the numerous LGBTQ+ victims and the families and friends they have left behind this year. The following individuals in the United States LGBTQ+ community have lost their lives by senseless acts of violence in 2019 with so many left unreported. Dana Martin, 31, a transgender woman of color, was found shot to death in her vehicle in a roadside ditch on January 6, in Montgomery, Alabama. Jazzaline Ware, a Black trans woman, was found dead in her apartment in Memphis, Tennessee, in March. Ashanti Carmon, 27, a trans woman of color, was shot and killed on March 30, in Prince George's County, Maryland. Claire Legato, 21, a trans woman of color, was shot in the head on April 15 in Cleveland, Ohio and later died from her injuries on May 14. Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a trans woman of color was found shot and killed on May 18, in Dallas, Texas. Michelle "Tamika" Washington, 40, a trans woman of color and long-time trans rights advocate, was fatally shot in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 19. Paris Cameron, 20, was shot and later died at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan on May 25, along with Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men. Chynal Lindsey, 26, a trans woman of color was found in White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas on June 1. Johana Medina Leon, 25, a trans woman from El Salvador seeking asylum in the United States, died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in El Paso, Texas on the June 1. Chanel Scurlock, 23, a trans woman of color, was shot and killed in Lumberton, North Carolina. Her body was found in a field just after midnight on June 5th by Robeson County sheriff's deputies. Layleen Polanco, an incarcerated trans woman died in New York City in June.

Let’s be clear, this list shouldn’t exist at all. Every single one of these beautiful souls should still be here. All of this violence must be addressed. And yes, it is absolutely heartbreaking for those individuals that are still in prisons and detention centers holding on for dear life, in hopes to be rescued from the unsafe environment of the United States governmental facilities. I’m hoping that responsible authorities will step forward and do the right thing by all the people being held. We would not tolerate this kind of malicious neglect from a federal agency if our family members had died in their custody. And, we cannot ignore when another member of our LGBTQ+ community has died at the hands of that same neglect. It is time to demand greater transparency and accountability from those who enforce our laws, especially our immigration laws, to ensure that not one more person is abused or dies in their custody.

This world is more than big enough for all people to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States government must do more to enforce the laws in place to protect every person. Why is human decency being ignored? Individuals employed by the various governmental and law enforcement agencies have family that they love, and they would want their loved ones protected from negligence and harm if ever they found themselves being detained. It is scary when the individuals that are supposed to protect us must be policed.

We all deserve a world where diversity is celebrated. I am the proud parent of a 20-something Black trans daughter and I love her dearly. It sickens me that we live in a world where she might be in danger simply for being her wonderful self. I always think about her safety and check-in on her to make sure she is doing well. It’s this kind of diligent, attentive love that we need to shower on our trans children. If every person loved their child unconditionally and cherished the gift of life, there would be no room in your heart to disrespect and harm another person, much less take a life. This madness of discrimination and persecution of individuals that don’t fit into a narrow-minded box would not exist. 

The world won’t get better by itself! Parents must be willing to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others, after all we are talking about our children’s future! We are talking about the future of our world! We must be educated, get involved, speak up, be visible, and stand tall. PFLAG is the best organization to seek resources in working to achieve LGBTQ+ equality.

As parents, we must help usher in this new world for our children to have a better chance at achieving their own dreams. It’s not enough to support our family behind closed doors and in hushed conversations, we need public action. Now that we have the knowledge, resources, and the avenues to pave the way for generations to come—let’s use them!

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