Newport News Black trans woman murdered in late December, misidentified until this weekend
The murder of a Black trans woman in Newport News went misidentified until this weekend when activists began reaching out about the issue.
Mic first reported the death of 29-year-old India Monroe in a post blasting Newport News Police for continuing to identify her as a man. Police used her birth name when releasing information about the shooting the following day.
More from Mic:
Magen Shannel was friends with Monroe and attended Monroe’s funeral on Jan. 3. She said that Monroe was buried under her birth name and made to look male. Her hair had been cut, and she wore a suit. Brittany Marquis, who attended high school with Monroe and knew her before her transition, saw a picture from the funeral and said gloves were placed over Monroe’s hands, as well.
“I know for a fact Monroe would not want to be buried that way,” Marquis said. “She’d want to have her nails done, hair done, looking amazing, because that’s what she liked.”
William Bailey, 35, told Mic Monroe identified as a woman since at least 2009, though he wasn’t sure when she first began to transition. Marquis said Monroe was very petite and short — about 5 feet, 2 inches. Nearly two years ago, they did their hair and nails together before Monroe went on a date. Marquis said she did not know whether Monroe was open about being transgender with her entire family.
Lewis B. Thurston, Public Information Officer for Newport News Police, said in a phone call with GayRVA the agency does not have a policy on identifying gender of victims, nor do they have an LGBTQ Liaison program. Thurston did say NNPD does not comment on the sexual orientation of victims. Below is the text from the police release:
The subjects in yesterday’s incident on Langley Avenue have been identified as 29-year-old Marcus West of Newport News and 37-year-old Mark Gray of Newport News. The investigation into this incident is ongoing.
The preliminary investigation reveals the two men were known to each other and there is no continued threat to the community.
Further updates will be released when available.
Officers responded to the first block of Langley Ave. at 11:23 a.m. for a welfare check. Upon arrival, officers located at least one deceased person inside the residence. After obtaining a search warrant, officers located two deceased males inside the home.
There is no further information at this time and the investigation is ongoing. We will post an update as soon as we have more.
Misidentifying trans people after their death remains an issue in the face of anti-trans and other sexual minority violence. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ (NCAVP) 2015 Report on LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) was released in October of 2016 and documented six transgender female victims. All six women of color, including four who were black and two who were Latinx.
The homicide of India Monroe was the 24th reported killing of a transgender/gender non-conforming person NCAVP responded to in 2016.
Monroe’s death comes within weeks of the murder of Richmond resident and Black trans woman Noonie Norwood. Activists were disappointed at Richmond Police misgendering and “deadnaming,” or using the victims birth name instead of their current identified name.
“As an anti-violence organization that centers it’s work specifically in transgender and queer communities, we often see individuals using birth names instead of chosen names as a way to hurt and exert power and control over someone of trans experience,” Stacie Vecchietti, Program Director at the Virginia Anti-violence project which works to combat violence against and within the LGBTQ community. ”When someone is murdered and then they get misgendered [deadnamed] sometimes by systems [law enforcement, media, etc.] and sometimes even family, we see that as a further act of violence against that person.”
Police continue to struggle as most precincts and agencies rely on family to identify a victim – but if the family is not supportive, as was the case with Norwood, it can complicate the issue.
“You identify [sic] does not trump my little girls safety.”April 27, 2016
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