Deonna Mason’s life mattered. Black trans lives matter. But as a cis man, I often only learn the names of my trans sisters after their deaths rather than during their lives. We, especially cisgender folks, need to #SayHerName and commit it to memory, the way we should have with India Clarke, Mya Hall, or the over 20 trans women of color killed last year.
Reading these facts is often so sobering that people sometimes reach a saturation point of Black death. However, nightmares like Laquan McDonald’s prove that due diligence is the only way these stories even surface. Evidence of Laquan’s murder was wiped clean and it took over a year for it to come forward. McDonald’s murder and the following city-wide coverup became national news through the work of the people on the ground, mainstream media, and activists utilizing twitter. However, Mason’s death flew under the radar of many activists, including those who focus on Black trans lives. So what happens when the messengers don’t know about another Black person robbed of life?
We cannot rally around an injustice we are not aware of, and this is what happened with Deonna Mason’s death. Finding comprehensive information on Mason is difficult, as all local news reports misgendered her. One article even referred to Mason by her birth name and claimed she was “dressed as” a woman, despite her actual presentation as a woman. Misgendering is a disgustingly common practice that is an act of violence many trans women deal with every day. Not even in death can trans women express their gender without the resurgence of their “dead names” or incorrect pronouns.
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