by Meghan Olson •
Kenyatta Webster, who went by ‘Kesha’ with friends and family, had just turned 24-years-old in February and was incredibly loved by her mother. Kesha, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, March 26, 2022. Kenyatta’s death is at least the 9th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. In 2021, despite limitations in reporting, HRC recorded the deaths of 57 transgender and gender non-conforming people, the largest number of fatal trans violence incidents recorded in a single year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.
On Friday, April 1, more than 100 people attended the balloon release honoring Kenyatta in Jackson. While there, her mother made an impassioned call for media attention and justice for her daughter’s death. “Everybody share it all on Facebook,” said Sharon Taylor, Kenyatta’s mother. “All over Facebook. Let it go out, because I want justice for my baby. Because she was loved. She had plenty of love. She didn’t deserve that. She ain’t no dog, no rag or dirt. She’s gonna get justice.”
The Jackson Police are currently investigating Kenyatta’s death. Family members have told the media it was a ‘robbery-homicide’ but this has not yet been confirmed by law enforcement. The Jackson Police investigators can be reached at (601) 960-1217 for tips.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Mississippi are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Mississippi does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 270 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 110 of which directly target transgender people.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.
Learn more about the fatal violence cases that HRC is tracking where details are unclear. You may find a list of these cases here.
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