For weeks, Muhlaysia Booker has been on my heart and mind.
She survived a brutal transphobic public beating. The horrific events included a crowd watching men attack her and someone even offering $200 dollars to a man beat her. However, a little over a month later, Muhlaysia was found dead.
Being-existing as a Black transgender woman can be dangerous.
Muhlaysia Booker was simply being in this world.
Being is not a crime and definitely not one warranting attacks and death.
Instead of respecting her being, violence was the response to engaging with a Black transgender woman.
To treat her in this way points to something deeper than fits of rage.
This violence does not stem from moral outrage.
Otherwise, the people behind the violence would encourage the opposite kinds of behaviors, like mentoring young Black men instead of incentivizing them to beat Black transgender women.
Hatred and Self-Hate
While bigotry and hate can certainly explain the underlying factors behind the increasing homophobic violencing within the United States, are there other factors to explore, too?
For example, does the combination of repressed sexual identity and toxic Black masculinity give way to this unimaginable violence? Could the hatred of the other be a reflection of self-hate?
There is Black self-hate that shows up in how certain Black men treat Black women and vice-versa.
Perhaps, certain Black men who feel attracted to Black transgender women, like Muhlaysia Booker, become extremely hostile because of an internal struggle with their own race, gender, and sexual orientation identities.
They avoid looking at themselves because feeling attracted to transgender women possibly challenges their socialization into a Black male identity. Instead of facing the root of their anger and inner conflict, they would rather destroy the person who is the subject of their desire and reminder of themselves.
Muhlaysia Booker becomes the blame for their desire- a desire they believe to be wrong.
These individuals would rather stomp out and destroy her as if by doing so would destroy the part of themselves or all of themselves that they secretly loathe.
They are not free.
A Free World
In a free world, being is not an act of daring.
We have not created a free world, yet, have we?
When a Black transgender woman chooses to show up fully expressed in this world, instead of hiding away, she most likely will experience a cocktail of homophobic, sexist and racist bigotry.
Muhlaysia’s mother, Stephanie Houston, shared these words about her daughter’s fight to exist as a Black transgender woman:
I want a world where no one has to fight or have many fights because of their race, gender, or their sexual orientation.
Instead of a life of defend, defend, defend, defend, I want my transgender sisters and brothers to live, love, thrive, and be free.
I want Black people to live and be free.
The lives of those who once dared to be themselves are trying to tell us something.
It is like their blood is crying out from the earth for us to listen.
But we do not hear.
Or is it that we do not understand the language?
To be a Black woman writing about any manifestation of Black-self hate and self-destruction risks accusations of being anti-Black men.
I am Anti- Black hate.
Anti- Black self-hate.
Anti- Black self-destruction.
I can go on.
I am more concerned about the kinds of thinking, actions, and being that lends toward life and progress than ignoring destructive behaviors that creates more wounds in our souls.
Let Her Be
For years, I learned from many Christian churches that homosexuality was evil, twisted, wicked, and sinful.
To be transgender is not evil.
Evil can be found in using sacred books, theology, and politics to create social conditions that fuel violence and justify hate against transgender individuals.
Evil can be found in the beating and killing of Muhlaysia Booker.
No one did God a favor for the violence against her.
Do you think God looked down and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” to her attackers? To her killer?
Muhlaysia Booker took on the form of Christ to be sold out for $200 instead of 40 pieces of silver.
She became the one who was mocked and beaten.
She took on the sins of people who refuse to deal with their hatred.
She was wounded for the iniquities of self-righteous individuals who think they their sexual orientation brings them one step closer to God.
Like Christ, she was killed without fault or guilt.
Do you have the eyes and ears to see and hear this truth?
What if the lost souls are the ones who struggled with honoring Muhlaysia Booker daring to be in this world?
I pray that in her death that more of us will open our eyes, ears, and hearts to rethink the kind of world we are creating together.
This is my prayer.
Let her be.
Let her be in peace.
Let Black transgender women be.