On April 12, Muhlaysia Booker, a black trans woman from Dallas, was jumped by a group of men yelling homophobic slurs in the parking lot of her apartment complex. A video of the beating was broadcast all over the world.
Days later, she went public and spoke out against her attackers, backed by members of the black trans community in Dallas.
“She knew she had to. But that’s not what she wanted. She didn’t want to do it. And she didn’t want to do it because she knew her doing it would put other people’s lives in jeopardy,” said Booker’s friend Robyn “Pocahontas” Crowe.
Four weeks later, Booker was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Booker was the fifth trans woman killed so far this year, and one of 133 killed in the last six years, according to LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign. Two-thirds of those murdered were black, and more were killed in the South than in any other region.
But Dallas is supposed to be different. Since at least the 1970s, the city has had a vibrant LGBT community, concentrated in the historic neighborhood of Oak Lawn. Today, that community has several allies in government and law enforcement.
But Muhlaysia Booker’s friends say that progress is limited by race and class — and specifically, that it does not extend to black trans women like them, and that the city has done nothing to stop the violence they routinely face. Even Oak Lawn, the city’s historic “gayborhood, has been gentrified beyond recognition.
“It makes us feel like we’re not wanted anywhere,” said Booker’s friend Mieko Hicks.
VICE News went to Dallas to learn how Muhlaysia Booker’s death affected the city’s black trans community.
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