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A Month After Beating, Dallas Trans Woman Shot Dead

Muhlaysia Booker’s fate underscores urgent need to address epidemic of violence

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A black transgender woman who just one month ago was hit with anti-LGBTQ slurs and beaten to the ground following a minor car accident in Dallas was found dead with gunshot wounds on May 18, according to police.

Dallas cops said they responded to a shooting call at approximately 6:44 a.m. on Saturday morning and found the body of Muhlaysia Booker at the 7200 block of Valley Glen Drive near Hyland Road, which is just steps away from the Tenison Park Golf Course. She was found face down on the street.

Police ruled the death a homicide but a department spokesperson told Gay City News that there are currently no leads on a potential suspect.

“At this time we are unsure as of motive, and no arrests have been made,” said spokesperson Demarquis Black. “The investigation is ongoing.”

In last month’s beating, which took place at an apartment complex and was caught on video, a man later identified as Edward Thomas allegedly attacked Booker before others joined in and starting kicking her head and body as she was trying to escape. Police are still trying to gather more information about the men involved in that attack.

Thomas was arrested and the case is being treated as a possible hate crime. Texas hate crime law does not protect people on the basis of gender identity, but it does based on sexual orientation. Media reports at the time indicated that Booker suffered injuries to her face and arm.

A police spokesperson said during a press conference on May 19 that “there is nothing at this time to connect” Thomas to the May 18 fatal shooting.

The shooting occurred during what has been a deadly month in Dallas. The police department announced that Booker’s murder marked the 23rd murder in May alone.

Police have asked the public to provide them with any information they might have about the circumstances surrounding Booker’s death.

Equality Texas, the largest organization working to bolster queer rights in the state, expressed outrage over Booker’s death and ripped state legislators for contributing to a culture of homophobia and transphobia by filing 20-some anti-LGBTQ bills this year alone.

“Transphobic and homophobic rhetoric are directly linked to fostering a climate of hate, a climate where someone might see Muhlaysia Booker as less human than themselves, a climate where a group of men could surround and beat her in broad daylight, and a climate where she was ultimately murdered,” the organization said in a written statement. “We call on our state’s political leaders to denounce not only the violence against Ms. Booker, but the discriminatory, dehumanizing views of LGBTQ people that enabled her attackers.”

The tragic turn of events for one person in back-to-back months serves as a sobering reminder of the disproportionate mistreatment of transgender women of color. Numerous cases of slain trans women have gone unsolved — including several in recent months — and there is also a pronounced pattern of trans women of color suffering from abuse and medical neglect while behind bars. Incarcerated trans people are often not housed in accordance with their gender identity, even in New York City, according to attorneys who represent folks who have been in the custody of the city Department of Correction.

The Human Rights Campaign, which tracks violence against transgender people, has tallied four cases of trans people killed in the US due to violence so far in 2019 — and all four of the women are black.

Updated 6:02 pm, May 20, 2019
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