It was February 2017 when I first heard about Chyna Gibson, a beloved stage performer who had been gunned down in her hometown of New Orleans. My stomach dropped, as it does every time I hear about another Black transgender woman being attacked or murdered. Over the next few weeks, I ravenously consumed every article I could find that humanized her (and there weren’t many). I learned that she was only a few years older than me and that she had performed at The Jungle, the first gay club that I had ever gone to in Atlanta. I read that she eventually moved to Northern California, just like I had nearly a year before, and that she had a mother that loved her. In her story — and its end — I saw myself.
The despondency I felt when Gibson was murdered was similar to what I felt when news broke that Empire star Jussie Smollett had been assaulted early Tuesday morning. Though I was used to the Black LGBTQ+ community raising up these heinous acts, this time I witnessed the general public offering up their concern and desire for accountability and progress. It was encouraging to see deep discussion on how white supremacy especially threatens Black queer people. (Though I did notice a number of people and media outlets diminishing the fact that the incident was also steeped in homophobia.) But throughout the day, I was also reminded of all of the times that many of the same folks who were speaking out for Smollett had been silent when scores of our Black transgender sisters were attacked or murdered.