Jasmine “Star” Mack, a D.C.-based transgender woman whose family says was “treated so bad because of who she was,” was killed from a stab wound to the leg, according to authorities.
The 36-year-old was killed seven days into the new year, making her the first person in the United States to die from anti-trans violence, according to PinkNews, an LGBTQ+ advocacy newspaper. No arrests have been made.
Mack’s sister, Pamela Witherspoon, recalls her as “boisterous,” “a little wild” and “a talented singer” who had a love for gospel music and “knew how to tailor old clothes into outfits that suited her statuesque frame.”
Standing at 6’5’’, Mack stood out from most and loved attention, “but not like this,” Witherspoon added.
According to loved ones, Mack considered herself transgender since she was a child. Her family accepted her transition, but she faced hurdles and setbacks as an adult and suffered from an addiction to crack cocaine, Witherspoon told The Washington Post.
She would eventually seek help from non-profit organizations, but she struggled to find a safe space to recover because she was transgender, her sister said.
“She’d been stabbed before. She’d been shot because of her sexuality. She was abused. People rejected her. She just wanted to be herself. She was a sweet person. She was not mean. She just wanted a chance at life.”
Charmaine Eccles, a transgender woman who mentored Mack, said transgendered people in D.C. face threats to their livelihood every day.
“Every day when I leave my house and walk around, my reality is that I don’t know if I will make it home because I’m trans,” she said. “Because of someone’s ignorance, they might just go off on me and decide to pull a trigger or stab me up just because of who I am.”
She continued: “That is a reality that we have to suck up and walk around with every day of our lives.”
Witherspoon says while she’s sad her sister is gone, she hopes her tragedy can serve as a reminder to treat trans people with respect, show compassion and have dignity.
“Give them a chance,” Witherspoon said. “They’re human, too. The only thing they want to be is accepted, that’s all.”