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On April 20, Muhlaysia Booker stood before a crowd of supporters to condemn the brutal violence that had almost taken her life. "I will remain strong with your support," she said. Days prior, a group of men had beaten her outside of the Royal Crest apartments in Dallas, though news of the attack had spread far beyond her city's limits after footage of the assault was shared widely on social media. "This time I can stand before you," Booker told the crowd, alluding to the fact that when violence against Black trans women like herself receives any kind of attention, it's usually because the woman has been killed. "In other scenarios, we are at a memorial."
Booker's words ring especially tragic this week. On Saturday, she was found dead. She was 23 years old.
The Dallas Morning Newsreports that Booker was found lying facedown in the road with a gunshot wound. Police have confirmed what seems obvious, that she is the victim of "homicidal violence." They have not named a suspect, nor said whether they suspect hate or retaliation played a role in the attack.
Booker's murder comes amidst an ongoing epidemic of deadly violence against trans women, primarily Black and Latina trans women. Twenty-seven trans and gender-nonconforming people died as a result of hate violence in 2017, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and 22 of those 27 victims were trans women of color.
"Black trans women make up the overwhelming majority of the fatal violence cases against trans people in the United States," a spokesperson for the New York City Anti-Violence Project tells Out. "These numbers show that Black trans women's lives are overdetermined by violence."
These numbers the spokesperson mentioned continue to play out in real time. The day after Booker was killed, another woman, Michelle Washington, was found dead in Philadelphia with gunshot wounds all over her body, per TransGriot's Monica Roberts. Washington was also a Black trans woman, and she, like Booker, did not have to die.
"This cannot continue," the AVP spokesperson continues. "The majority of trans women face housing and job insecurity based on widespread discrimination practices in the workforce and are forced into poverty. This economic violence is the context in which the fatal misogynoir and transphobia we see in headlines proliferates. Without safety and access to the workforce, healthcare, housing, and other critical areas of public life, Black trans women continue to be made disposable and denied the most the basic necessities needed to live a full life."
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