Lilly Wachowski Painted Portraits of the 27 Trans People Murdered in 2016
Today, the Chicago’s Center on Halsted opens a special exhibit by filmmaker Lilly Wachowski titled “Say Our Names” which will run through July 11. It features twenty-seven portraits of all the trans people murdered in 2016, and it’s title references the social media movement #SayHerName, which worked to call attention to the ways in which black women and black queer women are disproportionately affected by brutality and hate violence.
GLAAD named 2016 the “deadliest year on record for transgender people.” Also, consider that doesn’t include transgender people whose deaths “were not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim’s family.”
Wachowski began painting these portraits in July, as what she called “an outlet of the overwhelming emotion I was feeling in the relentless waves of mortal acts of violence against trans people.” They were born of “the need to connect, to remember, to honor” and to “recognize these murders for what they are —a genocidal project. Trans people are under attack and trans women of color, specifically, are being singularly and systematically wiped out.”
From GLAAD, here are all the individuals portrayed in the exhibit:
- Monica Loera of Austin, Texas murdered January 22. She was 43 years old.
- Jasmine Sierra of Bakersfield, California murdered January 22. She was 52 years old.
- Kayden Clarke of Mesa, Arizona killed on February 4. He was 24 years old.
- Veronica Banks Cano of San Antonio, Texas found dead on February 19. She was in her mid-30s.
- Maya Young of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania murdered on February 21. She was 25 years old.
- Demarkis Stansberry of Baton Rouge, Louisiana murdered on February 27. He was 30 years old.
- Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson of Burlington, Iowa murdered on March 2. They were 16 years old.
- Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum of Los Angeles, California murdered on March 23. She was 32 years old.
- Shante Isaac of Houston, Texas murdered on April 10. She was 34 years old.
- Keyonna Blakeney of Rockville, Maryland murdered on April 16. She was 22 years old.
- Tyreece Walker of Wichita, Kansas murdered on May 1. She was 32 years old.
- Mercedes Successful of Haines City, Florida murdered on May 15. She was 32 years old.
- Amos Beede of Burlington, Vermont murdered on May 25. He was 38 years old.
- Goddess Diamond of New Orleans, Louisiana murdered on June 5. She was 20 years old.
- Deeniquia Dodds of Washington D.C. murdered on July 13. She was 22 years old.
- Dee Whigam of Shubuta, Mississippi murdered on July 23. She was 25 years old.
- Skye Mockabee of Cleveland, Ohio murdered on July 30. She was 26 years old.
- Erykah Tijerina of El Paso, Texas murdered on August 8. She was 36 years old.
- Rae’Lynn Thomas of Columbus, Ohio murdered on August 10. She was 28 years old.
- Lexxi Sironen of Waterville, Maine killed on September 6. She was 43 years old.
- T.T. Saffore of Chicago, Illinois killed on September 11. She was thought to be in her mid-twenties.
- Crystal Edmonds of Baltimore, Maryland killed on September 16. She was 32 years old.
- Jazz Alford of North Carolina killed on September 23. She was 30 years old.
- Brandi Bledsoe of Cleveland, Ohio killed on October 12. She was 32 years old.
- Simon (Sierra) Bush of Boise, Idaho killed on October 22. They were 18 years old.
- Noony Norwood of Richmond, Virginia killed on November 5. She was 30 years old.
- India Monroe of Newport News, Virginia killed on December 21, 2016. She was 29 years old.*
The artist took time to research each of the subjects she painted, a process she described as incredibly emotional. Reflecting on the exhibit, she says:
“Being a transgender human being, there is a part of you that is in isolation. You have a fear of connectivity and I have a sense that it’s why there is nothing about some of these lives. They were unable to connect because of their transness. So I was crying whether I found a wealth of material or crying if I wasn’t.”
If you’re in or near Chicago up until July 11th, you can go see “Say Our Names” at Chicago’s Center on Halsted along with a number of other LGBTQIA events for Pride Month. If not, you can see the portraits here.
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