Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall
Update: An arrest was made in May, and the suspect was charged with "murder and additional offenses" in connection with Washington's death.
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Michelle "Tamika" Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19.
Police responded to reports of shots fired in North Philadelphia’s Franklinville neighborhood, according to the Philadelphia Gay News. Washington was found with several gunshot wounds and transported to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Local media reports that the cause of the violent attack is unknown, and the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made.
Friends and loved ones remembered Washington, who was also known by the name Tamika, as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
“Was notified by police early this morning of another trans woman of color murdered here in Philadelphia around 5 a.m.,” wrote Deja Lynn Alvarez in a Facebook post. “Anytime I get those phone calls and text messages it's extremely hard, but even more so when you realize it's someone you have known and been friends with for 20 years.”
“Your memory will live and light will shine on through us,” Alvarez continued.
Washington’s death comes just a day after Muhlaysia Booker was fatally shot in Dallas and less than a week after Claire Legato died in Cleveland after being shot. It is the fifth known case of deadly violence against the transgender community in 2019, all of whom were Black transgender women. Last year, advocates tracked the deaths of at least 26 transgender people.
In November, 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. Of the more than 130 known victims of anti-transgender violence from 2013 to present, approximately two-thirds of those killed were victims of gun violence.
It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- must cease.
To learn more about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.