I had planned to do an upbeat blog post today, something about TV shows that I love or one of those life advice pieces, but alas the hatred in this world has kept me from this once again. I feel a duty to honor the lives of Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, and Goddess Edwards instead. What do these three people have in common? They were women, they were black, they were transgender, and they were all murdered this month. And I want to add another commonality – you likely haven’t heard of them because their deaths have not received much attention from the media. Additionally, due to people disrespecting their gendered identities even in death, referring to them with male gendered pronouns, it can be nearly impossible to find accurate information. However, I still find it important to do what is in my power to do: speak their names, tell their stories, and shed light on members of our community who are often overlooked or subject to even worse forms of scrutiny and discrimination.
Lamia Beard was found horribly wounded by gunshot on the morning of January 17th when she was transported to a local hospital where she died of blood loss. She was 30 years old. In an interview with Alternet, Lamia’s sister described her as a loving person who just wanted people to accept her for who she was. The murder happened in Norfolk, Virginia. No suspects have been arrested.
Ty Underwood was fatally shot 9 days later on January 26th while driving. She was 24 years old and was murdered in North Tyler, Texas. According to Advocate.com “she had recently been accepted into and was planning to attend Kilgore College's nursing program in Longview.” No suspects have been arrested.
There is even less information on Ms. Edwards, who is being called Goddess Edwards by the online transgender community and (wrongfully) Sherman Edwards by WHAS 11, the local Louisville news station. She is reported to have died by a single gunshot wound to the chest on January 9th in Louisville, Kentucky. She was 20 years old. Henry Gleaves, the man alleged to have committed this crime is in custody and has been charged with murder. It took up until the 28th, 19 days after her death, for her identity to be acknowledged correctly because previous reports insisted on referring to her as a man.
Every single one of these stories is a tragedy. The lack of respect given to these victims by reporters who continue to misidentify them and the lack of outrage from communities of women, of black people, of anyone concerned with humanity gravely worsen the situation. With very little national attention, transgender victims (especially those of color) are forgotten while their cases grow cold and their murderers walk free. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs states: “Last year, at least 12 transgender women of color were murdered in what were all possibly acts of transphobic violence. Many of those murders have gone unsolved. NCAVP’s most recent report on LGBTQ violence reveals that 72 percent of anti-LGBT violence was directed against transgender women, 67 percent of whom were women of color.”
We need to raise awareness, have more conversations, and share their stories. We need to open our eyes and fully embrace the motto of #BlackLivesMatter by including our transgender sisters in the list of victims affected by hate crimes, injustices, gun violence, and inhumane brutality. Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, and Goddess Edwards - I will remember you. May you rest in power and peace.
For more information please see these articles: