Kelvin Denton remains in critical condition in a Memphis hospital today after being shot by 18 year old Terron Taylor. Taylor shot Denton in the nose and throat at 6 am on Wednesday of last week. The two are said to have gotten in an argument at Denton’s apartment.
Taylor admitted to the shooting when arrested but, like so many others, also claimed the trans panic defense. According to The Advocate, Taylor told police he shot Denton b/c she had “misled him about her gender.”
Like other women I’ve reported on this week who survived harrowing experiences through sure will, Denton was found before her injuries proved fatal, b/c she walked from her apartment to the Whitehaven Community Center near her home. She knew if she could just get there, someone would call the police and make sure that she got medical attention. All though she did not make it the whole way before losing consciousness, the police report said she was found by a jogger who called for help.
Denton is the 5th trans woman, 4 of whom were African American twoc, to be shot in the area in 2 years. Hate crimes in the state have gone up 38% this year and slightly less than half of that increase is against GLBTQ people. As Memphis Trans Guy points out in discussing the transphobic murder of Leeneshia Edwards in January, 3 of these crimes took place in just 6 months. Moreover, there seems to be a clear pattern of targeting working class/subsistence level African American trans women in the informal economy. The intersections of these identities has been largely missing from discussion of Denton’s case as well as some of the other shooting victims. Many of us who did talk about the intersections in all of these cases were queer women of color. One such discussion at Unfinished Lives makes sure to highlight all of the victims of the 6 month period prior to Denton’s attack and stress the need for HR in Memphis.
The failure of some LGB advocates to use proper pronouns (ie transphobia), and for some transgender advocates to address or even acknowledge the specific race of the women targeted (ie racism), as well as the failure of both to explicitly address class (ie classism, and possible heterosexism b/c trans women are often relegated to working class and informal economy positions) is part of the reason that trans women of color remain such easy targets. Not only do they struggle against societally accepted discrimination and violence but they are often rendered invisible by the discourses of advocates on every side.
Taylor is to be arraigned today and several transgender advocates have urged the judge and the police not to except the trans panic defense.
The TN Transgender Political Coalition is also once again calling for the State Legislature to pass an amendment to civil rights law for the state that would include “gender identity or expression” in protected status alongside race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. (read more here)
- Kelvin Denton/unattributed.
- Leeneshia Edwards/Eyewitness News. Edwards was killed in December 2008 by an unknown assailant. read more using link in post
- Tiffany Berry/ unattributed. Berry was killed by D’Ondre Blake 2/16/06 outside her apartment b/c “he didn’t like the way she touched him.” read more here.
- Ebony Whitaker/unattributed. Whitaker was killed by an unknown assailant near a day care center in July 2008. read more here.
- Duana Johnson/unattributed. Johnson was first beaten and refused medical care by Memphis Police and health care providers and then assassinated under questionable circumstances. read more here.