Another dead transwoman of color…this time in Philadelphia (again)

Diamond Williams is described as someone who had a big personality and even bigger heart.

She was so full of life. She was funny and we used to laugh. And I remember just acting silly with her and I just miss her because we had a lot of great times.

She was a very loving, caring, and creative person. We were family. We were like sisters and she loved her sisters. No one should ever have to die the way she died.

–Rachel Rose

Williams, 31, was killed last week after having sexual relations with Charles Sargent, 43.  Sargent allegedly dismembered her in his apartment and then dumped her body parts in a field in North Philadelphia.

I don’t care if he knew or he didn’t know.  Nobody deserves to die like that.  That’s someone’s life that (you) just brutally murdered and dismembered and threw her parts in a field.

Rose

Police say Sargent brought Williams to his home and after having sex, used a screwdriver and a hatchet to dismember Williams.  As he was in that act, his girlfriend arrived on the scene.  The allegedly told her what he had done and threatened her if she told anyone.

This is going to be you next.  You and your children.

–Sargent

The woman reported Sargent to the police.  Sargent had prior convictions for rape and assault.

You know, every time a transgender or gay person is murdered its overlooked, and no one cares. And I promised I wouldn’t cry but I feel like people think, oh, it’s another tranny, who cares.  Oh it’s another gay person, who cares.  But I pray for equality.  I pray that we have the same rights and respect that everyone else has.

–Rachel Rose

There was a vigil for Williams at Love Park in the City Center on Tuesday.  Director of LGBT Affairs Gloria Casarez was in attendance.

Less than a year ago at our LGBT community center, we gathered for Kyra Kruz, who was murdered.  Her murderer is still out there.  Two years before Kyra, we gathered right here at Love Park for Stacey Blahnik who was murdered.  Her murderer is still out there.  And almost 11 years ago, we gathered for Nizah Morris who was murdered.  Her murderer is still out there.  Today we’re gathered for Diamond who was brutally murdered over the weekend.

The only bright spot in this story is that her murderer has been captured.  Her murderer will see justice.  And I pledge that we will keep attention on Diamond’s brutal murder.  We will keep attention on this case for Diamond, for Kyra, for Nizah, for Stacey and all of us who have experienced violence because of who we are.

–Casarez

The media ignore us, and when they don’t, they disrespect and misrepresent us.  Society views us as disposable, expendable.

I didn’t totally disagree.  But, as I stood in the crowd listening to friends and advocates mourn Diamond Woods, I wondered: If we can’t even manage to care about the deaths of people we should be able to relate to – children – what chance do people often viewed as spectacles and freaks have at getting our attention, let alone our sympathy?

To the transgender community that gathered Tuesday at LOVE Park, Diamond was a gregarious and generous friend who struggled with the same issues as many of them.  They had come out on the other side.  Diamond wasn’t so lucky.

But – and forgive my bluntness – to most of the world, she was just some trick-turning, drug-taking tranny.  It’s cruel and heartless and speaks more to that ongoing conversation we need to have about whose lives we value and whose we don’t.

Helen Ubinas, Daily News

Rose met Williams 16 years ago.  She said Diamond had a troubled past.

As the years went by, we both started to go through our transition and she began to get on drugs.  She pretty much just struggled with the struggles that transgender women and men face every day, being discriminated against, being scrutinized, it’s hard to find a job.  Not being accepted in society the way that she wanted to probably drove her deeper into her addiction and working in the sex industry.

–Rachel Rose

Cassie Hart is another longtime friend of Williams.  She recounted the expense of medical treatment for transpeople and its role in driving some to prostitution because they perceive nowhere else to turn.

I mean it’s hard.  We want to live a lifestyle that you need a phenomenal job to live.  If you don’t have a phenomenal job, it leaves you an option to do what, work in a sex workers union.  The sex industry, we fool ourselves into believing it’s not unsafe.  We know that there are safety issues though.

It’s scary, but you tune it out.  If you do it long enough you’ll begin to not even know who the client is.  You see them, but you don’t see them because it’s all about the financial gain.  You don’t know them, they call you on the phone and you don’t know which way it’s gonna go.  You pray that it goes well; you hope that it’s just about the business aspect but as you see it doesn’t always go that way.

–Hart

According to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project by Transgender Europe, there were 1123 reported murders of transpeople in 57 countries over the past 5 years.  Sixty-nine of those murders were in the United States.

The vigil was co-organized by the Mazzoni Center.  The Center host a new Trans* Wellness Project which has the intent of addressing the health needs of transgender men and women.

Basically what we’re setting out to be is a one-stop-shop for all Trans needs, be it hormones, medical attention, etc.  We offer a free clinic on the first and third Friday every month, which requires no insurance.  Trans people need the same care that everyone else needs.

It is true on a large scale that because of discrimination that we face, that we are forced into sex work.  So we do go out to these areas where sex workers are, we pass out condoms, and we give them literature to let them know of the resources we have.   If they’re trying hard to get out of that and they need the name change and they need housing, we want them to know that we’re here to help.

–Deja Alvarez, Mazzoni Center

We will fight.  We will fight because Diamond, Kyra, Stacey and Nizah can’t fight.  We’ve done a lot of work here in Philadelphia on LGBT issues, and I’m proud to be a part of these changes in law, policies, and protections; we still have work to do.  But no number of laws, policies or protections is going to keep you safe in a dangerous situation.  We can’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

–Casarez

I don’t want them to feel like it’s just another tranny that was killed, no one cares about it.  She had a family; she had friends.

–Rose

What we want people to know is that we’re a part of the greater community at large..  It’s time for everybody to embrace everybody.

–Dionne Stallworth

Sargent has been charged with murder, possession of an instrument of crime, abuse of a corpse and making terroristic threats.

Aamina Morrison was at the rally.  She said she nearly died at the hands of the same man.  At the time, she was doing what Williams and so many others have been forced to do:  sell their bodies to survive.

I hadn’t seen that man in years.  But as soon as I saw his picture and looked in his eyes . . . I knew.  I knew that he did it, and I knew what he was capable of, and I knew that it was the same guy that I almost lost my life to about six or seven years ago.

My story could have ended there.  But it didn’t.

–Aamina Morrison, co-director of the Trans-health Information Project

1 comment

    • Robyn on July 27, 2013 at 12:06 am
      Author

    …will not become a trend.

    Butperhaps it already has:

    On July 22 a seventeen-year-old transgirl was dancing with a guy at a party in St. James, Jamaica when a woman reportedly told other party-goers that she recognized the transgirl as a male.  The teen was grabbed and groped in order to determine if she had a penis.

    Some of the patrons reportedly set up on the teen, and chopped and stabbed him [sic] to death.  His [sic] body was then dumped in bushes along the Orange Main Road.

    Link

    Same-gender sexual activity in Jamaica is legal for women, but a crime for men, a crime which can bring up to 10 years in prison at hard labor.

    In 2012, Jamaica elected progressive leader Portia Simpson-Miller as prime minister.  She promised to overturn Jamaica’s sodomy law passed in the 19th century, but she apparently backed down after enormous pressure from religious leaders.

    Nobody tried to defend the victim from the mob.

    J-FLAG notes with deep concern the recent mob killing of Dwayne Jones, a teenager in St James who is gender non-conforming… We encourage persons in the Irwin community of St. James to support the police with any information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

    Tolerance underpins democracy.  Tolerance protects justice.  Tolerance promotes harmony.

    Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays

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