People are mourning, yet again, the tragic deaths of Black transgender women with cries of #BlackTransLivesMatter. The graphic details are below.
According to Out, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells was the first woman found dead when her dismembered body was discovered alongside the Schuylkill River in the Bartman’s Garden area of Philadelphia Monday night. Cops are handling the case as a homicide.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of a member of our LGBTQ family,” the Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs said in a statement after Fells was identified. “The pain of such a loss is always difficult, but it is especially deep as we are in the midst of Pride month—a season typically filled with joy and celebration for many in our community.”
Initial media reports misgendered Fells as law enforcement took several days trying to identify her remains. Both of her legs were severed mid-thigh, causing authorities to believe Fells might have been run over by a train.
“What’s unusual is that both of the victim’s legs were cut off at the upper thighs. The body also seems to have some trauma to the head and face,” said Chief Inspector Scott Small of the Philadelphia Police Department, according to 6ABC.
The second trans woman to be killed was Riah Milton. Investigators say she was shot several times during an attempted robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio, on Tuesday.
Investigators and reporting from LailasNews.com say Miltion was lured to a park by three people in an apparent robbery attempt, which resulted in her being fatally shot several times.
So far, Kaleb Marshall Tooson, 18, and a 14-year-old girl have been arrested in connection to the robbery and death, according to investigators. Tooson is the suspected shooter and he was treated for injuries after he accidentally shot himself. A warrant has been issued for a third man, Jeffrey Cross, 25, who remains at-large. Along with charges related to the killing and robbery, Cross is also wanted for alleged unlawful conduct with a minor.
The killing of Fells and Milton has occurred amid long-lasting criticism that #BlackLivesMatter participants fail to address the violence transgender people face, especially Black trans women.
Although intra-communal violence has always been an issue amongst Black people just like any other race, Black trans people still face systematic and cultural barriers that lead to their deaths.
For example, according to a Human Rights Campaign report, Black transgender people have double the unemployment rate of all transgender people and they have four times that of the U.S. general population. Forty-one percent of Black transgender also report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives, which is more than five times the rate of the general U.S. population. Meanwhile, many transgender people have to engage in sex work for survival and at least 1 in 3 victims of anti-trans fatal violence since 2013 reportedly engaged in sex work. In addition to this, 54 percent of transgender people report having experienced some type of intimate partner violence.
Folks have called out different movements for not doing enough to address violence against trans people. Raquel Willis, a Black trans writer and activist, wrote as part of a series of tweets:
“Cis folks of the Movement 4 Black Lives, the larger queer movement, and feminist movement have long failed Black trans people. It’s time for a reckoning on your collective silence and inaction.”
She ended by tweeting:
“We mourn for you, do you mourn for us? We cry for you, do you cry for us? We rally for you, do you rally for us? We imagine better for you, do you imagine better for us? Here’s another morning, after another long night of wondering, ‘What will it take for y’all to hear us?’”
You can check out more tributes to Fells and Milton below.