In the LGBTQ community, and on social media, Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington was known as Michelle Simone. An African-American transwoman from Philadelphia, Washington was murdered, shot in her head and body in the early hours Sunday.
Washington, 40, is the fifth transgender woman of color murdered in 2019, so far and, the second in a week. She was a longtime advocate for trans rights.
Police have yet to say if the killing of Washington had a bias or hate motive, but authorities have a suspect in custody charged with her murder.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Committed LGBTQ Advocate Who Studied to be a Nurse, Suffered Numerous Gunshot Wounds to Her Head & Body
It’s reported that Washington’s body was discovered at around 5 a.m. Sunday. She had multiple gunshot wounds to her head, body and buttock, according to police. Transported to Temple University Hospital, she was pronounced dead at 5:30 a.m.
Philadelphia City Council at-large candidate Deja Lynn Alvarez, who said she was a friend of Washington’s for two decades, was quoted as saying Washington was a “longtime advocate for the city’s transgender community, ” adding that “It’s time that we say this is happening to trans women, it’s happening to black trans women, it’s happening to trans women of color. …It’s time that we shift the focus to that.”
In a human rights report, Washington was “remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and ‘gay mother.’”
2. Cops Say They Believe Robbery Was the Motive But Have Not Ruled Out a Hate Crime
Police told the Philadelphia Gay News the killing was during the commission of a robbery. In an email to the Gay News, Philadelphia Police Department Captain Sekou Kinebrew said she likely did not know the killer.
But, the investigation is still active and Kinebrew said “it would be premature to rule out the possibility of a hate crime.”
The Human Rights Campaign reports that Washington is the fifth transwoman of color killed this year so far.
Dana Martin, 31, was killed on Jan. 6, Ashanti Carmon, 27, was killed March 30, Claire Legato, 21, on April 15, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, on May 18 and now, Washington.
According to her Facebook page, she studied nursing at the Community College of Philadelphia.
3. Grief, Sorrow & Anger Are Being Channeled Into Calls to Action
Philadelphia City Council Member at Large Helen Gym tweeted out a call to action.
“We are mourning Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, a black trans woman who was murdered in our city this weekend. We are not doing nearly enough to keep trans women of color safe. May we take this time to reflect, and truly honor her memory through action.”
“Hate crimes are rising in America, and trans women of color are being killed at disproportionately high rates,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted.
“Stop killing black trans women, never has the phrase “let them live” needed to be used so literally. RIP #MichelleSimone”
“White cis women: We have to remember that the fight for ‘women’s rights”‘includes the fight for Black trans women’s lives. Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato, & Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington have all been murdered in the last month. Posting about our uteruses isn’t enough.”
4. A Day Before Washington’s Murder, Transwoman Muhlaysia Booker Was Shot & Killed in Dallas. A Month Before, She Was Viciously Assaulted
Transwoman Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas on May 18. A few weeks before, she was violently assaulted by several men.
The attack was recorded.
5. Police Charged Troy Bailey With Washington’s Murder
A day and a half after Washington’s murder, the Philadelphia Police Department Homicide Division arrested 28-year-old Troy Bailey and charged him with murder, and illegal possession of a firearm.