I was barely sixteen months into my own transition when I heard the shocking news coming out of Washington DC on August 7, 1995 about an African-American transwoman who died there.
Why do I remember this particular transwoman out of sadly the hundreds who have died since that date? It’s because Tyra’s death was unnecessary.
It was also because of the way she died.
Tyra Hunter didn’t die at the point of a gun or a knife, she died because of medical transphobia The transphobe who was responsible for her untimely death was wearing the uniform of a Washington DC Fire Department EMT.
She died from injuries she received in a car accident at 50th and C Streets in SE Washington DC because Adrian Williams failed to remember at the time Ms Hunter was one of the District’s residents he was trained and supposed to help.
Sadly that same DC street corner would see two more African-American transwomen die there under a hail of automatic weapons fire just seven years later in the persons of Stephanie Thomas and Ukea Davis.
Tyra’s death and my shock and anger over it would be one of the cumulative events that began to nudge me towards becoming the trans activist I am today. It was a wake up call that as an out trans African-American I needed to do more to start educating my people that we existed, we’re part of the kente cloth fabric of the African-American community and we deserved recognition of our human rights.
Tyra, while you left us far too soon, you’ll be happy to know that you are not forgotten. As long as TransGriot exists, I won’t let people forget what happened to you on that day and I and others are working to ensure it never happens to another transperson ever again.