A 22-year-old Black transgender woman was fatally shot in Dallas on Tuesday, according to police.
Local transgender advocates said the victim was named Merci Mack but was “deadnamed” in police and media reports. Deadnaming is when a trans person’s birth name, not their preferred name, is used. The Dallas Police Department said it had been “unable to confirm an alternate name for the victim.”
“Our detectives, as with all murders, are working diligently to find the perpetrator to this horrible crime,” Sgt. Warren C. Mitchell told NBC News in an email. “We continue to ask the community for their assistance.”
Mack’s killing adds to the Lone Star State’s grim statistic as being one of the deadliest states for transgender people: Prior to Tuesday’s killing, at least 14 trans and gender-nonconforming people were violently killed in Texas since 2016, according to the Human Rights Campaign. And since May 2018, four transgender people, all trans women of color, including Mack, have been killed in Dallas.
“It’s been a very tumultuous time for the Dallas transgender community,” Carter Brown, the founder of the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, said in an interview Wednesday. While Dallas may seem like a large, progressive city, Brown said in many ways transgender people are excluded.
“For transgender people, there’s not really a place — not within the LGBT community, and, especially for the Black trans community, there’s no place in the Black community,” Brown said. “So with no community and no protection from friends or other people — let alone authority or the law — then we are often just attacked and disposed of as a result of transphobia and homophobia.”
“It just feels like we are out here as open targets,” he added.
Last April, a Dallas trans woman named Muhlaysia Booker was filmed being beaten by a mob of people. A month later, she was found dead. Later, a man was charged with her murder and the murders of two other women.
Brown said he and other Texas trans advocates are concerned about investigations in these cases and have been demanding that the Dallas Police Department give “more attention and priority to bringing justice to these murders.”
He said he and other advocates have noticed “patterns” in which trans women live and where they are being killed, and they have “asked for some kind of task force to be created with [the Dallas PD] that would sort of patrol the areas.”
“We just really are demanding justice and a better protocol of how to handle these murders and these communities,” he said. “At this point we are looking at an epidemic, and we don’t feel that there’s urgency to protect these transgender citizens of Dallas.”