By Lauren Rearick
Lindsey’s death comes two weeks after 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was killed in an act of “homicidal violence.” Dallas police have confirmed the deaths of at least three Black transgender women since October 2018, the Dallas Observer reported; Brittany White was killed in October. WFAA notes that a fourth Black trans woman was attacked in April 2019; police have not released her identity to the public.
In an interview with WFAA, Lindsey’s cousin Tamaya Seaphus remembered her as someone who did her best to make other people happy. “This was a person that I had never seen mad. Not aggressive, not violent… I just can't see anyone hurting [her],” she noted. She said that Lindsey had moved from Chicago to Texas so she could be closer to her family.
During a press conference held on Monday, June 3, police said they are “very concerned” after the city’s third murder of a Black transgender woman this year. Dallas Police Department Major Vincent Weddington said Lindsey’s death was “not directly related” to the murders of Booker and White, but noted the attacks shared some similarities.
“We know this is the second individual who is transgender who is deceased in our community [this month] and we are concerned,” Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall said. “We are actively and aggressively investigating this case and we have reached out to our federal partners for assistance."
Police are seeking the help of the public and asked anyone with information to come forward, and asked for FBI assistance in investigating the recent murders, the Dallas Morning News reported. The FBI would help Dallas police determine if the murders were potential hate crimes, CNN reports, but current Texas law does not specifically name transgender people as being protected under its hate crime law. If Dallas police were to determine that these acts were hate crimes, police would have to go through the FBI before making charges.
Finn Jones, the executive director of Trans-Cendence, a Dallas-based organization that offers support for transgender people and their loved ones, said the group is saddened and shocked by Lindsey’s death. “Our community is just so shaken,” Jones told MTV News. “I got so many calls from trans women who are scared to walk their dog, go to the store, to do anything.”
Leslie McMurray, the transgender education and advocacy coordinator for Resource Center in Dallas, noted the continued oppression that transgender people are facing. McMurray pointed to recent laws, including President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban and the possibility that homeless shelters could deny access to transgender people, adds to the fear that trans people and specifically trans people of color face are forced to navigate. “We start banning all those things, and the message that’s coming across is trans live aren’t worth much,” she said. “It’s so important to understand the climate that transgender people are living under and it’s no wonder that the community is on edge.”
Both Jones and McMurray stressed that it’s vital for transgender people to know they are supported, and that resources are available for people in need of assistance. Along with an availability of national organizations like the Trans Lifelife and The Trevor Project, groups including Black Transmen, Inc. and Black Transwomen, Inc. are available for transgender residents of Dallas.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 26 transgender people were killed in the United States in 2018; most of them were trans women of color. As of May 31, 2019, the organization has confirmed seven known deaths of trans people.
In order to combat continued acts of violence against trans people, HRC recommends a number of measures for communities and politicians to take, including an increase in education regarding transgender people, the creation of continued safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people, and a more inclusive healthcare system. In an accompanying press release, the group wrote, “In order for us to end this deeply complex crisis, we must constantly identify new approaches and engage wider audiences to address the root causes that lead transgender people to face a higher risk of violence.”