Honoring Regina “Mya” Allen, Black Transgender Woman and Activist Killed in Milwaukee

by Jared Todd

To her friends, Regina Allen was known as Mya. She was full of joy and laughter – a sister and an inspiration in her community. On August 29, less than a month away from celebrating her 36th birthday, Mya, a 35-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Milwaukee. Mya’s death is at least the 29th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022 and the third known death of a Black transgender woman in Milwaukee this year following the deaths of Brazil Johnson in June and Toi Davis in July. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

Mya was a member of Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity (SHEBA), a local advocacy, empowerment, and support group for Black transgender women dedicated to “leadership development, health care promotion, self care, resources, education advocacy and more.” Active on social media, Mya would often post selfies of her beautiful outfits and makeup. She was a Christian and her faith was important to her. Mya was also a fan of professional basketball and football.

Mya was a beloved and beautiful soul who served as an inspiration to younger transgender girls in her community. Mya should still be with us today, spreading her laughter and joy. Instead, we are confronted yet again with the killing of a Black transgender woman who was simply living her life and living in her truth. Across the nation, we see violence and hatred against transgender people that is fueled by stigma – people wanting to shame and harm us for the unthinkable crime of wanting to live our lives to the fullest. It must end."

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

According to local news, surveillance video shows Mya and a man talking at a gas station before Mya entered the man’s vehicle. When the vehicle arrived at Mya’s apartment, a witness told police he saw two people arguing in a black SUV, then heard a gunshot before Mya screamed “I’m shot.” Before she died, Mya was able to dial 911 and gave police a description of the vehicle. Police are searching for the suspect, Clayton Hubbird, who has been charged with reckless homicide. Anyone with any information is urged to contact Milwaukee police at 414-935-7360 or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 414-224-Tips.

More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a 2020 report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. According to the 2017-2022 Transgender Homicide Tracker, the vast majority of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, with Black transgender women accounting for 73% of all transgender gun homicide victims. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019.

Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people. A report by the HRC Foundation, “An Epidemic of Violence 2021,” found that between 2013 and 2021, approximately two-thirds of transgender and gender non-conforming people with known killers had their lives taken by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner. Intimate partners specifically accounted for over a fifth (21%) of all known perpetrators – and it is likely this may even be an undercount. To date, the relationship of the victim to the killer is still unknown for a plurality (43%) of all identified cases of fatal violence.

Additionally, according to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, 54% of transgender and non-binary people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life. Last year, HRC released a report, titled “LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19,” that details the increased risk of interpersonal violence faced by LGBTQ+ people which has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Wisconsin are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Wisconsin does not include 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.

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