NYPD have released surveillance video of a man believed to be linked to the killing of Yahira Nesby, a black trans woman who was found fatally shot in her apartment earlier this month.
The footage, shared by WPIX 11, shows a black man wearing all-black clothing with gray-ish sneakers walking down a street. Nesby, described by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as a “loved member of the New York ball scene,” was just 33 at the time of her death.
A native of North Carolina, Nesby—whose nickname was Yaya—was a member of the House of Chanel; friends and family described her as warm, religious woman.
Dozens of mourners commemorated her life at a vigil outside her apartment complex last week, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, reports the GayCityNews.
According to HRC’s estimates, Nesby is the 25th trans or gender non-conforming person to be killed this year (though this number could be higher, due to police and family misgendering). And while 2019 is marginally better than 2018 in terms of murder rates, violence against trans women remains an urgent issue in both the LGBTQ and black communities: the overwhelming majority of the women killed were black.
The importance of advocating for trans people—particularly black women, who are most vulnerable to interpersonal and state violence—was front and center this year. The epidemic of violence hitting the community was mentioned by multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Inclusive advocacy was also focus of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City.
Ahead of the massive celebration, actress and advocate Laverne Cox told BuzzFeed’s AM 2 DM, “your attraction to me as a trans woman is not a reason to kill me.”
The crisis comes—not coincidentally—as black trans women become more visible in everyday life.
Cox also shared the struggle of confronting the issues continuing to plague trans black women, while also celebrating their increased power. She noted author and activist Janet Mock’s landmark production deal at Netflix, as well as actress Indya Moore’s Elle magazine cover as examples.
“For a long time I was talking about [the violence] all the time and just felt I was existing in this space of death, constantly, and it was insanely depressing,” Cox added. “And so I try to be in a ‘both and’ place.”
Most of the homicides tracked by advocates so far this year are the result of gun violence, HRC notes.