A vigil was held for murdered trans women, Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears | Photo: Twitter/@ABC7Jay
Trans rights supporters took to the streets of Maryland in memory of two trans women who were gunned down within weeks of each other.
A vigil was held on Friday (21 June) to mourn the loss of 27-year-old Ashanti Carmon, and 23-year-old Zoe Spears.
Both trans women of color were killed within a fortnight, with their bodies being discovered around four blocks of each other.
Attendees of the vigil spoke out against the high levels of violence which disproportionately affect trans women of color in the US.
Two trans murders in the space of two weeks
Carmon was murdered in the area of Aspen and Jost streets on 30 March.
Fairmont Heights police found Carmon lying on the sidewalk in the early hours of the morning, having suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Soon after being located, she was pronounced dead.
Two weeks later, Spears was discovered with a gunshot wound around the 600 block of 59th Avenue late at night on 13 June. She was also pronounced dead on the scene.
Police said that Carmon and Spears knew each other, and were part of a ‘tight-knit’ group of sex workers who operate along Eastern Avenue.
Trans rights activist Earline Budd spoke at the vigil, having known both the victims, WJLA news channel reports.
Describing Spears murder, Budd said: ‘Just gunned her down. Just took her life, like she was a piece of trash. It’s just got to stop.
‘And this predator is allowed to roam the city. I’m just gone. I’m just frustrated. And it’s just too much. It’s too much. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for breaking down,’ Budd added.
“Just gunned her down. Just took her life, like she was a piece of trash. It’s just got to stop.” -Trans Activist Earline Budd on the murder of trans woman Zoe Spears. Budd spoke Friday at vigils in MD & DC. Spears was killed earlier this month, Ashanti Carmon in March. @ABC7News pic.twitter.com/8U4d6S7aWi
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) June 22, 2019
Spears was the 10th trans woman to have been murdered in the US in 2019. All of the victims have been black.
Trans women of color remain one of the most marginalized minority groups in the country.
A 2018 report by LGBTI rights group Human Rights Campaign found that young trans women of color suffer from disproportionately high levels of violence.
Of the trans people who were killed, 82% were trans women of color. 64% were younger than 35, the report said.
This is concurrent with record levels of violence against trans women in the US over the past two years.
At least 28 trans people were murdered in the US in 2018. This followed 25 trans murders being reported in 2017.
A high percentage of trans women of color also struggle with finding steady employment and affordable housing. Many end up taking up sex work as a result.
In 2017, the FBI recorded 7,175 hate crimes in the US. Among them, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias. More than 100 of those victims were people of color.