A 22-year-old Black transgender woman was found dead with gunshot wounds in a Dallas parking lot on June 30 in a case that contributes to a disturbing trend of deadly violence targeting trans women of color in Texas. Police are deadnaming her even as officers assert that they aren’t able to confirm her name.
Merci Mack was unconscious when her body was discovered at 6:15 a.m. in the Rosemont Apartments parking lot located at 3015 East Ledbetter Drive, according to police. First responders pronounced Mack dead at the scene due to gunshot wounds, and those who reside at the apartment complex told police that gunfire was heard around 5 a.m. on the same day. Cops said nobody called the police at that time.
Police deadnamed Mack in a press release and told Gay City News in an email that “we are unable to confirm an alternate name for the victim,” clearly acknowledging that they were publicizing a name despite being uncertain of its accuracy. Police said they decided to use Mack’s dead name “after contact with next of kin,” but biological families do not always respect the names of transgender and non-binary individuals. In another recent case of a transgender woman killed by deadly violence, the individual’s family encouraged police to deadname her.
Unfortunately, Mack’s death was not an outlier in a state where Black and Latinx transgender women have been disproportionately targeted in recent years. Muhlaysia Booker, a Black transgender woman who was attacked with anti-LGBTQ slurs and beaten in a parking lot in April of last year, was shot and killed one month later.
Chynal Lindsey, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in a Dallas lake on June 1 of last year in a case that cops described as “homicidal violence.”
In September of last year, Rony Calderon, a Latinx transgender woman, was harassed with anti-LGBTQ slurs and shot multiple times, but miraculously survived.
And in Houston, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman named Tracy Single was found dead with puncture wounds and severe lacerations at a gas station last July.
“What pains me most about the continued loss of Black trans life is that nearly everyone who is identified as Black knows the sting of stigma and the trauma of discrimination,” David J. Johns, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a written statement. “We know the horror of being the victim of violence simply because of socially constructed ideas of ‘Blackness.’ This shared experience alone should be enough for each of us, everyone who is Black, regardless of cis or trans experience, to collectively call for and do the work to end the violence that trans and non-binary members of our community experience — too often in silence. Merci Mack deserves better, as a community we failed her and so many of our trans siblings and this is beyond unacceptable”
Mack was killed five days after a 17-year-old Black transgender girl, Brayla Stone, was found dead in a vehicle on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas. More than a dozen transgender individuals, mostly Black transgender women, have been killed due to deadly violence in the US this year alone after the Human Rights Campaign tallied at least 27 deaths last year.
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