Trans Advocate Michelle 'Tamika' Washington Fatally Shot in Philadelphia

Michelle “Tamika” Washington, a transgender advocate, was shot and killed on May 19, shocking the LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia. Police announced that 28-year-old Troy Bailey was arrested on May 20 in connection with the murder.

Washington, 40, was shot multiple times on the 3400 block of North 11th Street, authorities said. She was transported to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Tamika’s death has devastated our community. As Tamika’s loved ones and LGBTQ Philadelphians mourn her loss, our Office continues to stand in solidarity with trans women of color — who throughout history have fought for our rights, protected our communities, given us shelter, and reminded us of the incredible power of our identities,” Amber Hikes, executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said in a statement.

On the night of May 20, authorities arrested Bailey at 750 Race St., Philadelphia Police confirmed to The North Star. He was arraigned the following day on murder and firearms-related charges.

Homicide Captain Jason Smith told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Bailey initially told police that he was an eyewitness to Washington’s murder and provided a “false description” of the incident to investigators. Bailey eventually admitted to shooting Washington. Authorities said detectives are not investigating the fatal shooting as a hate crime and do not believe Washington’s gender identity was the reason behind her shooting.

“While her bright light and presence in the LGBTQ community cannot be replaced, we find comfort in knowing that we are one step closer to justice for Tamika,” Hikes said following Bailey’s arrest.

In a statement, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that he was joining the city’s LGBTQ community in mourning Washington’s loss. “Tragically, violence continues to disproportionately impact our transgender siblings, especially trans people of color,” Kenney said. “We must speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination our transgender siblings face.”

Washington was described as a trailblazer and caregiver who placed her family first. “She had a good heart, and her life definitely didn’t deserve to end the way it did,” human rights advocate Sharron Cooks told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

At least two other Black transgender women died in May. Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas on the same weekend as Washington. Booker made headlines in April after a separate brutal attack in a parking lot was caught on video. Claire Legato, a 21-year-old Black trans woman, was shot in the head on April 15 in Cleveland, Ohio following an argument between her mother and suspected shooter John Booth. Legato was taken to a local hospital and she succumbed to her injuries on May 14.

According to Human Rights Campaign, five Black transgender women have been killed in 2019. Advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender people in 2018, the advocacy organization said.

A 2015 US Transgender Survey (USTS) found that nearly one in 10 respondents reported being physically assaulted because they were transgender, National Center for Transgender Equality reported. In total, 42 percent of respondents reported experiencing some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime and 47 percent reported being sexually assaulted.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.