September 21, 2020
Dear EBLRLA Members,
On August 17, 2020, three men attacked and robbed Eden Estrada, Joslyn Flawless, and Jaslene Whiterose, three transgender women of color, in Los Angeles.
The attack was caught on camera phones by the multiple onlookers who watched the men assault, rob, and threaten the women. During the attack, the suspects hurled several transphobic slurs at the women. Several onlookers who videotaped the attack laughed and also yelled out hateful, derogatory words. These videos were uploaded to multiple social media platforms.
One of the men was arrested on August 20, but was released on August 25 after the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office sent the case back to the police for further investigation. The Los Angeles LGBT Center director of policy and community building, Terra Russell-Slavin, called for accountability and transparency from the district attorney’s office about the decision.
“At a time when transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women, are being violently assaulted, and in many instances murdered, at vastly disproportionate rates, this decision cannot stand without further explanation.” Terra Russell-Slavin wrote in a statement. “We demand a full accounting for the process and we will continue to raise out voices of protest until our questions are answered.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, since 2013, about 111 out of at least 157 transgender and non-conforming victims of fatal violence have been Black transgender women. Out of the 22 trans and gender non-conforming persons killed in 2019, all but two were Black transgender women.
As a result of community demands, by September 1, two of the men were formally charged, with one man wanted for questioning, by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for felony counts of robbery, criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, and battery with serious bodily injury. These charges are also alleged to be hate crimes.
One of the survivors, Eden Estrada—also known as Eden the Doll with almost a half a million followers on social media—said “I know I’m so privileged, because I am a YouTuber and because people know who I am, but this happens all the time to women like me who aren’t on social media . . . We need this to stop.”
East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association agrees with Ms. Estrada’s call to action. We denounce these acts of violence against transgender women. We will not be free from violence until everyone is free from violence. We call for action while holding ourselves, our communities, our systems, and all institutions accountable.
As Marsha P. Johnson—a Black trans woman, an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and trans people of color, and leader of the 1969 Stonewall uprising (along with Puerto Rican Venezuelan American activist Sylvia Rivera)—once said, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”
We invite you to sign the Change.org petition and to support Bay Area advocacy organizations that center trans women, including Black trans women, and Latinx trans women.