Transgender woman of color murdered in Florida; gets hammered in the media

india clarke samuelLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — A body found near a community center basketball court in Tampa, Florida this week is that of trans woman India Clarke. While the cause of death is still not known, there was blunt force trauma to the upper part of her body. At this writing there are no further details or suspects.

UPDATE: Oct 27, 2015 — A suspect has been arrested in the murder: Keith Lamayne Gaillard. The victim died from a gunshot wound to the head.

This story came to my desk by the way of blogger Monica Roberts who asked of African-American cis brothers and sisters: “When will #BlackTransLivesMatter? When will your trans brothers and sisters see ministers and politicians decry the loss of these lives as loudly as you do for cisgender Black people?”

Both Monica Roberts and Carlos Maza of Media Matters made note of the Tampa-area mainstream media wholesale, and perhaps deliberate, misgendering of the victim. In common with many of early mainstream news headlines was: “Man in a dress.”

Maza: The cycle at its worst seems to be the same: a transgender person is found dead, law enforcement officials fail to acknowledge the victim’s gender identity, and local news outlets follow law enforcement’s lead, misgendering the victim despite often knowing how the victim wished to be publicly identified.

But failing to report the way Clarke is publicly identified deprives audiences of the information they need to understand her death in the broader context of violence against transgender women. In instances where misgendering is intentional, it’s a statement that her gender identity is little more than a deceptive costume, not worthy of being taken seriously.”

T/h also to Gabrielle Langmore

Monica Roberts:

Carlos Maza:


india clarke samuel

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8 replies

  1. Black. Lives. Matter.

    Trans women of color are at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder, although it might be argued that it’s kind of a free-for-all down here; people stepping on each other’s faces just to reach the first rung. From a distance–a nice, safe white-privileged distance–I’ve seen some examples of the devastation trans women of color experience. We white trans women think we’ve got it rough? We can at the very least find acceptance among ourselves and a larger community. But there is no “trans women of color” community.

    I confess, it’s hard not to make the mistake of going meta on this topic, like Bernie Sanders did. It’s as if the artificial demographic labeled “trans women of color” is an embodiment of everything that is wrong with racism, sexism, discrimination, and the inability of all humans to understand anything outside the boxes of bipolarity, privilege, custom, and social class. (There, I went meta, but only for one subordinate clause) It’s as if you tried to pour a 50 gallon barrel of industrial waste into a 2-liter pop bottle and the excess goes everywhere. But that pop bottle is full of distilled suffering. No need to look much beyond the pop bottle; it’s full of that which is the very worst we can do to our fellow humans. (Almost meta)

    Who speaks for them; the dead trans women of color? Sometimes it’s a sister, but more often it’s some white cis-gender, privileged talking head spouting all the cliches of the Victim stereotype: the male pronouns, the “real” identity, the insinuation of prostitution. That’s the script, the stock explanation the straight world uses to force that dead body into an acceptable pigeonhole. Personally, it makes me want to magically dive through the screen and seize that talking head by the throat but that’s just absolute frustration trying to goad me into a Zoey Tur-like response. (Wasn’t that sooo clever of her?)

    I can say this with some accuracy, I think: there is NO justice for trans women of color unless they’re waaay up that economic ladder and even that is just another damn media illusion. Laverne, Janet…they are no more safe than their sisters at the bottom: in the free-for-all, struggling to survive. Trans women of color are, in fact, the easiest target of all for our adversaries, surely because they are the most deprived.

    Personal note: Lexie, would you please email me? I have some questions I must ask relating to my new book and I don’t have your address available. Thank you.

  2. So very sad, rest in peace sister. X x


  1. Transgender Black Woman Murdered in Tampa, Tenth Trans Hate Killing of 2015; Where is the Cisgender Outrage? « Unfinished Lives
  2. Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015: A Reporter’s List | LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS
  3. Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015 | The Politics of Gender
  4. Diaspora Hypertext

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