Authorities arrested a suspect in connection with the violent beating of 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker last week in Dallas, marking the latest known assault of a Black transgender woman in a rising trend.
Edward Thomas, 29, was locked up at the Dallas County Jail on Sunday and charged with aggravated assault, ABC News reported. Investigators were also considering charging him with a hate crime.
The incident, which was captured on video, happened on Friday. Booker told investigators that she was assaulted after a minor traffic accident. A man, presumably Thomas, wearing a white long-sleeved T-shirt ran up to Booker and threw her to the ground. He punched her in the head multiple times after pinning her down. A mob of several other men joined the attack, during which they used homophobic slurs.
A report from the Human Rights Campaign said that 2018 was the second consecutive year that more than two-dozen members of the transgender community were known to have been killed. At least 26 transgender people were killed in 2018, the majority of them Black transgender women. Since 2013, there have been 128 killings of transgender people, of whom 80 percent were people of color.
The trend appears to continue. In 2019, the first known transgender person killed was a Black woman in Alabama. Dana Martin, 31, was found dead in a vehicle from a gunshot wound in January.
The actual number of transgender victims was not clear. Physical attacks, harassment and sexual assaults against transgender people are often underreported. Added to the problem, police often identify victims by their birth gender instead of their self-identified gender.
“When Black trans women are brutalized, I have mostly come to expect silence from nearly every group that we’re part of. After we are diminished and marginalized in our lives, should we then be murdered, we can expect careless investigators and police officers releasing inaccurate names and genders and an endless justification for our deaths, suggesting we were ‘tricking’ our assailants or that we made bad life choices that placed us in a precarious situation. The hierarchy of whose lives actually matter is clear,” Raquel Willis, activist and writer, wrote about the situation.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he was “extremely angry” by the assault on Booker, vowing that the city “will not stand for this kind of behavior.”
The violent episode came about two weeks after a suspected white supremacist beat a Black woman unconscious in Dallas.