On Tuesday a harrowing story went viral, profiling the death of a cisgendered Black man from Philadelphia named Maurice Willoughby, aka “Reese Him Daddie,” who committed suicide. Many linked his death to reports that he was bullied for dating a Black trans woman named Faith Palmer.
The news that Reese had taken his life was first shared by Faith in a Facebook post where she detailed her grief and the trials that the couple faced together.
“…you was my everything until those pills took total control and took you away! All he wanted was for us to win as we battled all his mental demons but I got left being the only one tryin to get help cause he gave up hope as my friends and family and his grandma tried to help and keep me alive while I tried to save him before this point,” she wrote.
Prior to his death, Reese also spoke of the social rejection he faced for dating a Black trans woman.
“Y’all can say whatever about Faith I really don’t care if she not passable I don’t care if she wasn’t born a woman she is a woman to me & I love her flaws that’s what makes her faith if you heard her story it’s motivating….. I’m happy you should be happy for me,” he wrote.
A viral post showed Reese as he was being taunted on the street over his relationship with Faith.
As the tweets and posts mourning the death of Reese continued to pour in, Faith took to social media on Tuesday to explain that Reese overdosed after she ended the relationship.
According to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, the first organization to advocate specifically for the lives of Black Trans women, Faith took to Instagram live to discuss Reese’s death and to also clear up some misconceptions.
“Several outlets and media figures have framed this as an instance of a cisgender man bullied to take his own life,” the post from the MPJ Institute begins.
“Reese’s suicide is not the time to discuss cis men who date trans women. Faith went on Instagram Live to clarify that Reese actually died of an overdose after she left him. A heavy drug user, Reese threatened to take his life and Faith’s. She ran away to safety, and it was then that he committed suicide.”
As the MPJ Institute heartbreakingly points out, the story of Reese and Faith is a complicated one which intersects race, addiction, the binary, violence, passion and power.
The repeated deaths of Black trans women continue to mark a clear righteous indignation against those who do not operate under the binary, as well as the social, political, sexual and physical violence Black trans women face on a daily basis.
Let Faith and Reese’s story serve as a two-fold tragedy and let us open our hearts to Faith and her family during this difficult time.
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