BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
While many borough organizations walked, ran, danced and cheered their way down the route of the annual Queens Pride Parade, nonprofit Make The Road NY took the opportunity to shine a light on the lives of 12 transgender people who died in 2018 as a result of anti-trans violence in the United States.
Make the Road leaders Bianey Garcia and Mateo Guerrero and TRIP—Make the Road’s LGBTQ justice project—somberly held a banner and photos of the individuals as they slowly walked the parade’s route in Jackson Heights.
“We’re here for trans-queer liberation, not rainbow capitalism,” said Guerrero.
So far, there have been 12 murders of transgender people this year in the United States. The victims remembered during Make the Road’s march included Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, Viccky Gutierrez, Tonya Harvey, Celine Walker, Phylicia Mitchell, Zakaria Fry, Amia Tyrae Berryman, Sasha Wall, Karla Patricia Flores-Pavon, Nino Fortson, Gigi Pierce and, most recently, Roxsana Hernandez.
Steele-Knudslien, 42, the founder of the Miss Trans America Pageant, was stabbed to death in her Massachusetts home on Jan. 5. Her husband, Mark Steele-Knudslien, has been charged in her death.
Gutierrez, 33, was killed in a fire on Jan. 10 in Los Angeles. Kevyn Ramirez, 29, was arrested in her death, and allegedly admitted to stabbing Gutierrez.
Harvey, 35, was shot and killed in Buffalo on Feb. 6. Although Buffalo police believe that Harvey’s death was a hate crime, no arrests have been made in the killing.
Walker, 36, was shot and killed in a hotel room on Feb. 4 in Jacksonville, Florida. There have been no arrests in the murder.
Mitchell, 45, was shot and killed on Feb. 23 outside her Cleveland home. There have been no arrests made in the killing.
Fry, 28, was found dead in New Mexico on Feb. 19 in a trash container with severe trauma to the head and face. Charles Anthony Spiess, 27, was charged in her death.
Tyrae Berryman, 28, was shot to death in Baton Rouge on Mar. 26, while Wall, 29, was shot to death in South Carolina on April 1 in her car.
No arrests have been made in either case.
Flores-Pavon, 26, was choked to death in her Dallas apartment on May 9. Jimmy Eugene Johnson III was charged in Flores-Pavon’s death.
Fortson, 36, was shot multiple times during an argument on May 13 in Atlanta. He died at a local hospital. Pierce, 28, was fatally shot on May 21 in Portland, Oregon. No arrests have been made in either case.
Hernandez, 33, was an immigrant from Honduras who died on May 25 at a hospital in Albuquerque. She had traveled to the United States in a migrant caravan through Mexico. After having asked for asylum, she was held at a detention center by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She was transferred to a transgender unit at a correctional center in Milan, New Mexico, that contracts with ICE. According to ICE, Hernandez died of cardiac arrest. Immigrant advocacy groups—including Pueblo Sin Fronteras, Diversidad Sin Fronteras and Al Otro Lado—allege that Hernandez’s death was a result of medical negligence.
Since 2013, the Human Rights Campaign, which is the largest national LGBTQ civil rights organization, has tracked 117 murders of transgender and non- binary people, 66 of which were caused by gun violence. In 2017, 28 transgender people were murdered, 16 of whom died by gun violence.
During Make the Road’s annual Trans-Latinx March last year, the organization lined 15 pairs of shoes outside its office to commemorate the 15 transgender people who had died at that point in the year.