A Latinx trans woman was shot to death in the Bronx on December 26, the NYPD confirmed to Gay City News.
Authorities said Alexandria Winchester, 24, was found dead at the rear of 365 East 183 Street. She died from a gunshot wound in the back of her head, according to police.
The city’s EMS team pronounced the woman dead on the scene. Police said she resided at 480 E. 185 Street, which is the site of the LGBTQ youth homeless shelter known as Marsha’s House.
On December 29, police arrested 30-year-old Marquis Tanner in connection to the case. Tanner, who resides in Manhattan, was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon, and unlawful possession of marijuana.
The Ali Forney Center, which serves LGBTQ homeless youth, first announced on December 31 that Winchester died in the shooting. Winchester was one of the center’s clients.
“A young transgender woman of color was murdered on the streets of our city. The details about her murder are still emerging, and it is believed she knew her murderer. We do not know whether she was targeted because of her identity. We are shattered, but our dedication is not broken,” the Ali Forney Center wrote on Facebook.
The post continued, “We are working with our community partners to host a vigil. As we mourn this loss, we continue our fight for trans lives, and we hold space for our trans coworkers and clients to bring light to her life and death, to say her name, to hold community, and to affirm that trans lives matter and trans lives are beautiful. #SayHerName #AlexandriaWinchester.”
Just after the holiday break, Bill Torres, director of the Ali Forney Center’s drop-in services, said he received a call from the NYPD’s LGBTQ liaison, Carl Locke. He said Locke noticed that wanted posters referring to the incident misgendered the victim. Locke reached out to Torres to clarify the victim’s identity and correct the mistake.
“We end up in that position a lot where we become the guardian family, the spokesperson for whoever has passed,” Torres said.
Torres recalled briefly meeting Winchester during the center’s drop-in hours. At that time, Winchester was new to New York and was still processing much of her life.
“I remember her because she was so smart and so full of joy even though she was new to Harlem, new to the streets, and new to her identity,” Torres said. “New to the conflict between all of that.”
Marcié Kumah, a local LGBTQ advocate, said she was one of Winchester’s mentors. The community wants to give Winchester a proper burial, but she said they are struggling to identify her family.
“It bothers me that her body might still be unclaimed in the morgue,” she said. “It’s very important that our community member is given dignity at the end… give dignity to Alexandria.”
Kumah described Winchester as “witty” and “outspoken.” Kumah said they connected at community events.
Winchester’s killing comes after the Human Rights Campaign tracked the deadliest year on record for transgender and non-binary individuals, with most of those killings targeting trans people of color.
“We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality,” HRC’s deputy press secretary, Madeleine Roberts, wrote in a statement. “It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.”
Among other recent cases include the murder of Courtney “Eshay” Key, a Black transgender woman who was killed on Christmas Day. Last month, Bella Pugh, a gender non-conforming teenager, was killed at a Christmas party in Prichard, Alabama, near Mobile. Gay City News reported on January 4 that a transgender woman was found dead in a Georgia Parking lot, though it was unclear whether or not she was targeted because of her gender. Like many trans people, she was misgendered in police reports and by local news outlets.
Torres said the deaths of LGBTQ people “seem never-ending.” But the most difficult part, he said, is hearing that another young trans woman died at the start of her life.
“I just remember her giggling about a new dress and enjoying herself,” said Torres tearfully in a phone call with Gay City News. “Right at the beginning of our work in this child’s life where they felt free for it to be ended so tragically like that and to have no family that shows up or cares. It just breaks my heart.”
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