In Memoriam

outdayMonday I went to the Mazzoni Center for my check up. As I waited to get blood drawn, I saw another woman in the waiting room. She had the same hairstyle as Keisha Jenkins, the transgender woman brutally beaten and then shot to death earlier this week. I don’t believe this woman was actually Keisha, but for one moment, let’s pretend it was. At the very least, I know she has undoubtedly been there before, as the Mazzoni Center is a popular health center for the Philadelphia trans community. I've thought long and hard about this moment in the waiting room since hearing about Keisha’s brutal murder, her image plastered all over Facebook and television. I put myself in the shoes of her friend. If we had been hanging out that night, perhaps our evening would have gone like this:

We walked to dinner together, had a few drinks, walked to Woody's, and had a few more. We talked about our friend issues, our jobs, and our families. We went to Tavern on Camac to meet other friends, took photos, then danced the night away until we parted ways and headed home.

Only she never made it home. While I was sleeping in my chair, she was led to a park where she was brutally attacked and then shot in her back. Meanwhile, I slept and went to work as usual.

I didn't know her, but she is me. She is my friends. Replace her name with anyone you know and you can better understand why this hatred and abuse toward the transgender community has to stop. Her death is the third murder of a trans woman in Philadelphia this year -- the twentieth nationally.

It could have been me, you, or someone you know. This time it was someone I didn't know, but that doesn't make it ok, and it doesn't make her brutal attack easier to forget. What she did for a living doesn't matter. The motives of her attackers may not have been in hate at first. Perhaps the motive was money. Once they realized she was Transgender, however, I have no doubt that their hate for our community fired up their rage. If she had been born a woman, perhaps she would have survived a beating and been saved from death.

Today, I join 1,000 others to march in Philadelphia for the 5th annual Trans March. While the theme this year is unity, Keisha’s death must be remembered today. We can March in anger and voice distaste for what happened, but we also need to march together peacefully to show the passersby that we are no different than them. We laugh, cry, eat, drink and poop. We are their equals. All we ask is to be treated with the same dignity, the same equal rights, and the same respect.

Keisha’s name will be added to the list of Transgender murder victims, along with Transgender victims of suicide, honoring the lives they left behind and the pain they felt from not being accepted in our community.

Let's make a difference. Let’s not add anymore names to this list. Let's walk together in unity to make a change for the better.

NewsCarrie Pizzillo-Stare