#BlackLivesMatter Means Black Trans Women Victims And Leaders Too

May 8, 2015  |  

Penny Proud is one of the latest reported Black trans woman to be murdered in the U.S. She was shot to death on Tuesday, Feb. 10 in New Orleans.

Penny Proud, 21, became the fifth Black transgender woman murdered in the U.S. earlier this year, sparking outrage. People took to social media to express their frustration using popular hashtags like #BlackTransLivesMatter and #MakePennyProud.

Proud was found dead Tuesday, Feb. 10 in New Orleans with multiple gunshot wounds, receiving little mainstream attention.

“If you know a trans woman of color, lift her up and hold her close. We are being murdered in the streets simply for breathing,” Lourdes Ashley Hunter, 39, national director of Trans Women of Color Collective, tweeted.

According to advocates, Black Lives Matter and coverage around it shouldn’t only focus on the victimization of Black men by police; it should be supportive of Black trans lives. Hunter said Black trans women and Black Lives Matter are working together in leading Black liberation.

“I think the biggest challenge is making this movement intersectional; looking at the various forms of oppression that play into Blackness,” said Arielle Newton, 23, the editor-in-chief and founder of Blackmillennials.com.

“Black Lives Matter must mean just that, all Black lives, not just [heterosexual] Black men,” said Zellie Imani, 30, activist and blogger of Black-culture.com.

Newton and Imani are cisgender advocates (meaning they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth). They are part of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

“I think there’s a lot of relationships that need to be built,” Newton said. “As a cisgender woman I will never understand what it means to be trans.”

“I actively research for myself and read for myself,” she added. “So I can be better educated and better prepared to be a better ally for my trans brothers and sisters.”

She said she knows “plenty of cisgender people who are like ‘this is a movement for Black liberation.’ Black and Brown trans people of color definitely have a right and place in it.”

Imani blamed transphobia, misgendering, dehumanization and calling Black trans women “it” as major reasons for the lack of value for their lives.

“When a trans woman gets killed, instead of treating her as a victim and wanting to serve the murder of her crime and punish the person who killed her, it’s always about what did she do to get killed?” said Imani.

Ashley Love (center), journalist and coordinator of Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter, organized a national call of peace for Black trans women in D.C. outside the Congressional Black Caucus Conference on Sept. 27. In April 2015, she celebrated her 35th birthday. According to Alternet.org, “the average life expectancy for a black transgender woman is 35 years.”
Source: Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter

Ashley Love, 35, journalist and coordinator of Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter, said all Black lives matter, but Black leaders condone transphobic gender segregation, inciting physical violence. She said laws and attitudes that treat trans women as second-class women and subhuman need to be changed.

“Black elected officials and public figures are quick to speak out against White male on Black male violence, yet generally hold their tongues when Black men continuously murder Black women of transsexual history,” said Love, who is a transsexual and intersex advocate.

She asked for support of Black trans women back in a September 2014 press release. “Are the murders of our trans sisters less worthy of tears, of outrage – their humanity less than?”

“All too often the media ignores or belittles the epidemic of violence against Black women in the United States, even more so when the victims are women of transsexual or transgender experience,” Love added.

Lamia Beard, Michelle (Yazmin) Vash Payne (top right) and Ty Underwood (bottom right) are three of the Black trans women murdered earlier this year.

According to the Anti-Violence Project, Lamia Beard was found shot to death on Jan. 17 in Norfolk, Va.; Ty Underwood was found shot to death on Jan. 26 in Texas; and Michelle (Yazmin) Vash Payne was stabbed to death in Los Angeles on Jan. 31.

Lourdes Ashley Hunter, national director of Trans Women Color Collective, gave Goddess Edwards (photographed) her nickname after being misgendered in WHAS 11’s Jan. 12 coverage of her death in Louisville, Ky.

Local news station WHAS 11 reported that 20-year-old Sherman Edwards was found shot to death on Jan. 9 in Louisville, Ky.; Hunter nicknamed her Goddess. Hunter claimed the media misgendered her, speaking in terms of the name she was born with and gender she was assigned, instead of the woman she was when she was killed. Besides WHAS 11, Edwards received little coverage.

Patrisse Cullors, 31, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, said the movement is already more supportive of all Black lives, but news coverage focuses on Black male lives.

“I do think that the media covers what they want to cover. [With] the media, the issue of Black men dying is still more important than the issues of Black women and Black trans women.”

“We have been working with TWOCC,” said Cullors. “They have been really critical in the conversation around Black trans women and developing a broader narrative that doesn’t just talk about cis Black people.”

Hunter clarified Black trans women are leading social justice movements in collaboration with cis Black leaders against structural oppression.

“It is critical to note that trans women of color have been the catalysts of social justice movements,” said Hunter. “TWOCC leads a transformative movement that goes beyond inclusion to elevating opportunities of collaboration and collective liberation.”

Updates were made to this piece — removing language of inclusion as Black trans women and the Black Lives Matter Movement are working together. Follow BLK Social Journalist (#BLKSocialJ) on Twitter, @DeronDalton.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Masterpieced

    Penny was not proud to be a man.

  • Denny

    Is it just me or is everything that is gay or transgendered considered to be special nowadays? All Black Lives matter! Period! Live your honest life and stop shouting from the rooftop about it everyday! I go through my day as a Black woman that tends to vote Republican and I like ice cream. I’m “different”. Do I get an article or press conference? No! Oh yeah, I’m not gay or transgendered and I just live my life! Respect people. Live honestly. Just be you!

  • Taz

    How about having actual black women lives matter first before we start adding in “other” we have a long way to go with black women.

  • blessednjudged

    I think the mainstream media will cover anything for ratings. Black men are hot right now. its up to the “independent” media to keep us woke and aware. Madamenoire and sites alike, it is up to yall to bring us the facts so we can have a larger voice to speak for all aspects of blackness together.

  • cc

    They can start their own movement.

  • me

    I’m so tired of hearing about Transgender women and their inclusion into every movement that ever lived

  • PeaceCorps1

    The trannys are mostly killed for fooling men into thinking they are women. So, lesson? Stop the lies.

  • PeaceCorps1

    “Black Lives Matter” does not discriminate oh the gender of the person.

  • provokethought

    All Black lives matter but let’s take what we can get and build from there. There is a crisis in our community that needs the nation’s attention. It reminds me of the Million Man March where women were complaining because they couldn’t participate. Let’s keep our focus here so we can make progress…..one step at a time.

    • mmmdot

      Whoa, #Blacklivesmatter was started by three young Black women, NOT Black men. It’s mission was to speak of the value of ALL the Black people in the Black community: Black women, Black girls, Black LGBTs, etc. When we say #BLACKLIVESMATTER, we’re ALSO talking about Black women and Black LGBTs, INCLUDING trans women, whether YOU realize it or not. They ALSO face police brutality. Their names should never be left off the roster of lives lost, missed, and deserving of justice. Please google it so that you don’t continue to obfuscate and misrepresent it’s ACTUAL mission. Women can also head the justice movement itself. Women can also head the justice movement itself. Our bodies aren’t just here to be used as canon fodder to protect Black men’s lives. We’re here to stand up for OUR OWN lives and sit at the table, making decisions ourselves. I repeat: Black men ARE NOT more important than any other Black people. Period.

    • mmmdot

      “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement” by Alicia Garza

      I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our
      society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

      The Theft of Black Queer Women’s Work

      Straight men, unintentionally or intentionally, have taken the work of queer Black women and erased our contributions. Perhaps if we were the charismatic Black men many are rallying around these days, it would have been a different story, but being Black queer women in this society (and apparently within these movements) tends to equal invisibility and non-relevancy.

      Broadening the Conversation to Include Black Life

      Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while
      our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all. Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.

  • Courtney Banks

    Good luck trying to get people to march for transgendered. But I fully agree. ALL black lives matter.

    • zAB

      If a TRANSGENDER is KILLED by a cop in QUESTIONABLE circumstances, i am sure people will ask for an investigation and for charges to be filed if appropriate. By the way the TRANSGENDER as long as he/she is BLACK is subject to the same PROFILING/BIGOTRY as any other BLACK. This whole Article is suspect trying to distract people for the LARGER PICTURE. Again BLACK LIVES MATTER is about “ALL BLACK PEOPLE” being MISTREATED/MURDERED by POLICE.

      • Courtney Banks

        If all black people matter, then why take issue, with this then? There’s nothing to distract you then..You’re telling on yourself.

    • PeaceCorps1

      I would not march for them. They disgust me. Loud. Big weaves. Too much make up thinking that all of the false body parts make them more pretty than real women. Yuck.

    • Masterpieced

      I would march. In the opposite direction. lol

  • phillyboi

    God gave you your gender not a scientist, you weren’t “assigned” a gender you were blessed to be who god called you to be, whether or not you “choose” to honor that gift is totally up to you. BTW, gender reassignment or taking in estrogen, or walking with a switch, talking with a fake lisp doesn’t make you a woman if you were born with C@@K and Balls guess what cutting them off doesn’t make you anymore of a female, you’re just mutilating yourself. Not saying this to be mean, just giving my opinion.

    • PeaceCorps1

      Fake lisp. Ha ha lol

  • JAI

    I’m still trying to figure out what I just read…

  • ShayRe

    How about including black women as well since we are getting murdered out here as well but are hardly reported on.

    • secret87

      No only black men matter. Even if there gay,straight,on death row,or owe child support. Black women are to continue to protect men at all costs.

      • Masterpieced

        We give birth to them. Of course we protect them.

    • ZAB

      Do you think people are trying to get murdered so it can be REPORTED ON? BLACK LIVES MATTER is dedicated to anyone MURDERED by police. if a transgender or a woman is murdered by police well BLACK LIVES MATTER covers it. Now if a transgender or woman is murder by somebody other than the police, it’s called a REGULAR HOMICIDE/WOMENCIDE or MANSLAUGTHER/WOMANSLAUGTHER. SINCE now we live in this “ME TOO” society. SORRY BUT PEOPLE ARE GETTING MURDERED BY COPS AND WE DON’T KNOW THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION so i don’t see where this non-sense is coming from.

      • Courtney Banks

        It’s because these movements,marches etc.. All center around the lives of straight cis black men being murdered while simultaneously ignoring literally everyone else. That’s why it’s brought up. btw sexual orientation=/= gender identity

        • Zab

          listen nobody is marching for those killed by gangbangers, drunk drivers, or any random criminals. This is not some gender issue but the irrational, illogical crazies always come out, pushing a suspect cause. Keep in mind before you become transgender or even a women, your ETHNICITY/RACE has been determined (if your PARENTS are BLACK you’re coming out BLACK, parents can ask the OB/Gyn Doctor whether it’s Boy or Girl but it’s going to be a BLACK baby). So ONE MORE TIME put it in your thick skull BLACK LIVES MATTER covers ANYONE MURDERED by POLICE regardless of gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

          • Courtney Banks

            No one is marching for them because black lives matters has nothing to do with black people dying in general. it’s about black people dying at the hand of crooked cops who are paid to protect the people they’re murdering.

            • Lourdes Ashley Hunter

              Actually, you are incorrect. Black Lives Matter is about ending all violence against Black bodies, not just state sanctioned violence.

    • Starcru

      RIGHT?! I haven’t seen or heard anything thing about black women being killed,but they can take the time to talk about TRANSwomen??

      • Shawndrea Rachelle


      • CaribbeanGlow

        And Black women have little visibility, yet Laverne Cox gets beauty spreads and says he will fill that void. Glad some are seeing this to be as dangerous as it truly is. The trans movement is a (white) male entitlement movement.

        • @ThisisAnointed

          It is DANGEROUS

        • CherryWood

          To tell you the truth, I’m very sick of seeing the faces of Laverne Cox and that other one with the curly hair (forgot his name.) In a world where Black women are already put down for their beauty, in a world where black women could REALLY use the coverage and exposure, in a world where there are hardly any safe spaces and icons for black women, and these trans fools are taking those spaces. Throw as much hate and shade at me all you want, but it’s the truth! Black TRANSwomen are more protected and covered than black women! Why? Because they are, ultimately MEN! Just like how Black men get more exposure, coverage, and safe spaces/icons/representation, so do they.

          • CaribbeanGlow

            Wow. Preach. Janet Mock is the other one, and are their last names coincidental, or a deliberate knife-twist? These men are actually enemies to women.

            • Masterpieced

              Mock rhymes with Co-K. Like Laverne Cox (it is a play on their nastiness).

              • CaribbeanGlow

                I hadn’t thought of that. I thought he was being ironic since he’s a mockery of a woman.

                • Masterpieced

                  Could be that too. I am just so over them. I have to admit when one is killed for posing as a woman… I do not blink…

                  • CaribbeanGlow

                    Did you know Laverne championed two who kiIIed women? One white trans she spoke up for wanted to have a “gender change” surgery then be moved to a women’s prison. This person had raped and murdered a young black girl, burning her body. The other trans Laverne supported had strangled a woman; I think his wife. Their disregard for crimes against women and girls reminds us they truly are men.

            • Masterpieced

              yes, they LOVE to state how they are much more prettier and sexier. While, not all women can have babies, I have to add—NONE OF YOU CAN HAVE BABIES.

          • Masterpieced

            Hate you? never. Speak!

    • Shawndrea Rachelle


    • Nikia D-Shiznit

      I say this all of the time. Thank you