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In Memoriam: Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus “Kimmy Icon” Braxton

by Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project

It is with heavy hearts and extreme sadness that we at Center on Halsted mourn the deaths of four Black trans women whose lives were taken by gun violence last month. On January 17th Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, 30, was killed in a murder-suicide in Atlanta, Georgia. Dominique Jackson, 30, was killed on January 25th in Jackson, Mississippi. Details of both cases are still under investigation. Fifty Bandz, 21, was shot on January 28th in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Michael Joshua Brooks, 20, her former partner who had threatened her life previously, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Alexus Braxton, 45, was killed in Miami Florida on February 5th . Not much is currently known about Alexus’s death, but it is being investigated as a homicide. In Florida, gender identity is not a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law.

A vigil for Bianca was held on February 5th by the Trans Housing Coalition that gathered three dozen individuals to celebrate her life. Bianca grew up in the foster care system and had experienced homelessness at points in her life. In December 2020, the Trans Housing Coalition supported Bianca and helped connect her and her longtime friend with their own housing. According to the Coalition’s founder and co-director, Jesse Pratt Lopez, Bianca had a job interview scheduled the day after she died. The tragic loss of Bianca’s life took away the dreams and successes she was working towards.

Bianca is remembered by her chosen family, who shared memories and kind words. Her nickname “Muffin” stemmed from her love of blueberry muffins and she had dreams of competing on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Her friend Angel Karmarain described her as “sweet and kind” and spoke with Bianca everyday. Another friend, Lana Brooks, knew Bianca briefly but mentioned, “Even though that is a brief time, in that short amount of time you were able to see her light shine. That’s all you needed from Muffin. You didn’t need much more than that.”

Dominique Jackson of Jackson, Mississippi was a prominent member of her community. She was the mother of the Hause of Redd and the founder of the Ladi Redd Inc. Loved ones posted on social media on January 27th about her missing, after not hearing from Dominique for three days. Although details of her case does not indicate a hate motivated crime, it is important to note that Mississippi’s hate crime laws does not include sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

In memory of Fifty Bandz, her friend and advocates spoke her name and released balloons on February 1st and will also host a memorial. Angelle Bradford with Louisiana Moms Demand Action stated, “Fifty Bandz should be alive today…Black trans lives matter and it’s past time lawmakers to start acting like it.”

Alexus was a hair stylist who was active on social media, She often discussed overcoming her hardships and sharing stories of her friends. A recent Facebook post of hers reads: “they can’t stop my shine.” Alexus’ mother, Tatiana, calls for structural change: “Twenty two years later and Black Trans Women’s lives are still not VALUED. In 1999, I witnessed my best friend get murdered in the streets of Miami. Sadly, since her murder, I’ve lost many more friends due to senseless violence. Here we are in 2021, it’s my daughter Kimmy. There’s one thing that remains the same: law enforcement, state officials and local politicians have no sense of urgency to address this growing epidemic. Please help us!”

There have been 5 known murders of Black trans women in 2021. We state known due to the underreporting of TGNB deaths and misgendering of TGNB victims. The disproportionate impact of gun violence in the trans community, especially towards Black trans women, is alarming and disturbing. According to HRC, 8 in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. The Transgender Homicide Tracker reports that 73% of the 122 homicides of trans Americans since 2017 were related to gun violence.

This news comes days after the “United Against Anti-Trans Violence” community forum hosted by the Anti-Violence Project was held in partnership with Mothers of Murdered Trans People (M.O.M.T), Affinity Community Services, Lighthouse Foundation, Howard Brown Health’s Broadway Youth Center, and Brave Space Alliance. These continuous reports of anti-trans violence are why it is extremely critical for organizations like the Center on Halsted and our partners to continue to provide resources and advocacy to support the transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community while calling out these acts of violence.

The Anti-Violence Project is committed to continuing to serve the trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community and provide a space where individuals can receive support and assistance in their times of need.
We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted.

The Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted empowers LGBTQ communities and allies to be free from all forms of violence and their effects through free counseling, resource linkage, advocacy, education, and community engagement. If you or someone you know are currently feeling unsafe, targeted, or isolated, we can help. The Anti-Violence Project team can be reached by calling 773–871-CARE (2273) and emailing avp@centeronhalsted.org.

#sayhername #saytheirnames #blacktranslivesmatter #biancamuffinbankz #dominiquejackson #fiftybandz #alexusbraxton

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