Hundreds are expected to gather today for the funeral of Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old transgender woman, who was brutally assaulted in a hate crime in April and murdered ten days ago. The funeral is being held at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas at 11 a.m. today.
A month after the April assault on Booker, she was found lying face-down, shot to death in a Dallas street ten days ago on May 18.The Dallas Police Department has made no arrests in Booker’s murder, have identified no suspects, and have found no connection between Booker’s shooting and the April assault.
The previous April assault was captured on cell phone video footage and shows a man viciously beating a prostrate young woman in a pink wig, surrounded by a mob egging the man on, kicking Booker, and yelling homophobic slurs. A group of women finally helped Booker escape the mob.
Booker was hospitalized and treated for bone fractures and a concussion.
The man who was beating Booker, Edward Thomas, was arrested following the posting of the now viral footage and was charged with aggravated assault. Greater charges were not levelled against Thomas because gender identity is not covered under Texas’s hate crime statute. Thomas has since been released and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
After the April attack on Booker, she spoke out publicly about violence against transgender women in an effort to prevent what ultimately ended up happening to her from happening to other transgender women.
Black transgender women, like Booker, are disproportionately vulnerable to violent attacks. Within the LGBTQ community, Black transgender women are the most likely to face lethal violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
However, when it comes to life and death situations like violence against transgender folks, particularly transgender folks of color, the feminist movement often goes quiet and cold. Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, or TERFs, backed by right-wing institutions, have long been at the forefront of the anti-trans rhetoric and movement under the umbrellas of feminism and conservatism.
Intersectionality within the feminist movement is often overlooked with sex being the primary factor mentioned when discussing oppression and discrimination, without acknowledging and taking into consideration other identity factors like race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, ability, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and more.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, the civil rights advocate and critical race theory scholar who coined the term ‘intersectionality,’ wrote, “Intersectional erasures are not exclusive to black women. People of color within LGBTQ movements; girls of color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse — all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, able-ism and more. Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion.”
Anti-trans advocacy will continue to have the deepest impacts on those living at the intersections of multiple identities, like Muhlaysia Booker, until movements like the feminist movement better acknowledge intersectionality and include, advocate, protect, and demand justice for transgender women of color.
Sources: Washington Post 05/20/19, 09/24/19, Human Rights Campaign 2019, Buzzfeed News 05/20/19, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth 05/27/19, Political Research Associates 02/20/19.