Black Trans Lives Matter: What to Know About Riah Milton and Dominique Fells

Photo credit: Twitter


As Black Lives Matter protests continued across the U.S. and the world this week, two Black transgender women were killed within a 24-hour period. Riah Milton of Liberty Township, Ohio was shot several times during a robbery attempt on Tuesday, and Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells's remains were found alongside the Schuylkill River in the Bartam's Garden area of Philadelphia Monday night.

"It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of a member of our LGBTQ family," the Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs said in a statement following the identification of Fells, per Out magazine. "The pain of such a loss is always difficult, but it is especially deep as we are in the midst of Pride month—a season typically filled with joy and celebration for many in our community."

Police initially misgendered both Fells, 27, and Milton, 25, in their initial reports of the deaths. Milton's sister Ariel Mary Ann shared on Twitter to express how upset she was over the fact that police both dead-named and misgendered her sister.

"So my birth sister, Riah, was tragically murdered yesterday," she wrote. "Like me, she’s also trans. The news has been misgendering her as well as other people and I want to make sure that she’s remembered in death like she was in life. #SayHerName #BlackTransLivesMatter#BlackLivesMatter"

Both families shared fond memories of their loved ones

Mary Ann told WCPO Cincinnati: "All I wanted to make sure that my sister was celebrated in death like she was in life," Mary Ann said Friday night. "As of right now, my main concern is just making sure that Riah is at peace, and I just want people to know that black trans lives matter."

Per, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one friend wrote online of Fells: "Dom was a unique and beautiful soul who I am lucky to have known personally. I am beside myself right now. We need to fight!! We need to do more!!!! We will get justice."

Here's how you can help their families right now

Both of these women's families have set up GoFundMe pages to help fund their funerals.

Fells's younger sister Dior and her family posted a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs. They wrote: "Dominique was a black Trans woman brutally murdered and discarded in a river in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our family is in mourning and in utter disbelief that something like this could happen to one of our own. Dominique who often went by the name Rem'mie was truly one of a kind. We can Assure all of you that we will not stop until her killers are found and justice is served accordingly."

Mary Ann is organizing the GoFundMe for her sister:

"My dear sister Riah Milton passed away on June 9, 2020," Mary Ann wrote. "She was an amazing person who was loved by everyone. This GoFundMe is to help with sending her home."

Here are just a few ways you can advocate for and financially support trans lives and Black trans lives.

Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MJPI):"The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of BLACK transgender people. We do this by organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting our collective power."
Black Trans Femmes in the Arts:
"The mission of the BTFA Collective is to connect the community of black trans women and non-binary femmes in the arts & to build power among ourselves."
The Okra Project
:"The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever we can reach them."
The Black Trans Travel Fund
:"The Black Trans Travel Fund is a mutual-aid based organization committed to uplifting the narratives and supporting the livelihoods of Black trans women. Launched in June of 2019, BTTF was developed for the purpose of providing Black transgender women with the financial resources needed to be able to self-determine and access safer alternatives to travel, where women feel less likely to experience verbal harassment or physical harm. We are proud to have already redistributed over $60,000 to Black trans women in need!"
Black Visions Collective
: "As an organization dedicated to Black liberation and to collective liberation, we need a radical and ongoing investment in our own healing. By claiming love for our own bodies, our own psyches, our own experiences, and by building the resources we need to integrate healing justice into all that we do, we are insisting on conditions that can carry us towards the next generation of work, and towards a deeper place of freedom for all of us."

Continue to call for justice for these women's lives and the lives of transgender people murdered every year

In 2019, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. and found that it's clear that violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. This is why people are saying their names and using the hashtags #Blacktranslivesmatter, #blacklivesmatter, and #RestinPower, and more. In a year in which Nina Pop and Tony McDade are among the names of Black people murdered, here are some examples of how we can keep saying their names and calling for justice.

This post will be updated with more resources and information.

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