Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Bubba Walker, a Black transgender woman who was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July.
Walker, 55, was reported missing on July 26. Her body was found in the rubble of a house fire a day later.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are currently investigating Walker’s death as a homicide and ask that anyone with information call 704-432-TIPS and ask to speak with Homicide Unit Detective Echols.
Walker is remembered by friends and family as “a cautious, funny and sometimes reserved person.”
“She was one of those people who was really fun to be around,” said Clarabelle Catlin, a trans woman who knew Walker through the local trans community, in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. “She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
As occurs far too often in the reporting of anti-transgender violence, initial reports misgendered Walker in coverage of the crime. Catlin and other members of the Charlotte transgender community worked diligently to ensure that Walker’s life and true identity was known and honored across social media.
Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment too often seen from media, law enforcement and our highest elected officials. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.
At the time of this report, Walker is at least the 20th known transgender or gender non-conforming person killed this year, the majority of whom were Black transgender women. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported -- or misreported. Additionally, other transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have died in the last year under suspicious circumstances, including Johana ‘Joa’ Medina and Layleen Polanco.
In November 2018, ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, HRC Foundation released “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018,” a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence.
These victims are not numbers -- they were people with hopes and plans, dreams for the future, loved ones and communities who will miss them every day.
There are currently very few explicit legal protections for transgender or gender-expansive people. Transgender people in Charlotte are not explicitly protected across many aspects of daily life, including housing and employment, and they are not covered under the state’s hate crimes legislation.
Despite marginal gains in state and local policies that support and affirm transgender people, recent years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels because it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
HRC will continue to hold the Trump administration and all elected officials who fuel the flames of hate accountable at the ballot box.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- must cease.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.