A Black transgender woman described by friends as “vibrant” and “charismatic” has been brutally murdered in the US.
Royal Poetical Starz, 26, was shot and killed in Miami Gardens, in broad daylight, on the afternoon of 2 October.
It is reported that Starz was shot up to 20 times as she sat inside her vehicle on a residential street, making her “at least” the 40th trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person killed in the US in 2021, according to HRC. This figure does not include the number of deaths that undoubtedly go unreported or misreported.
The shooter is said to have sped off in a getaway vehicle, only to crash into a tree blocks away from the scene, before fleeing on foot.
Friends of the victim described her as: “the life of the party…everyone loved how Poetical was dressed. They would always comment, ‘Girl, I love that hair.’ Or ‘Girl, I love those nails.’”
On 4 October Miami Gardens Police Department are said to have shared a photo of the victim – misgendering her as a “Black male”. The report says Poetical died carrying a U.S. passport — which identified her as Brandon Yoder — and that “she had female clothing on”.
Speaking to SouthFloridaGayNews, Starz’ friend, family law attorney Sandy T. Fox, talked about the victim being misgendered and deadnamed in the press reports that followed her murder:
“Let me tell you the most disgusting part of all — I changed HER name because she’s trans to Royal Poetical Starz, which is what Facebook and Instagram says,” Fox said.
“That’s also what she’s recognized as at the medical examiner’s office. But it appears they aren’t even recognizing her as trans.”
Subsequently, as a result of misinformation, queer and LGBT+ news outlets were uninformed about her murder for an extended time. At this point, there have been no arrests made.
Susan Kerr, a Pittsburgh blogger who tracks transgender murders, said that these types of murders are not uncommon.
“I have noticed that these are not all happening in the middle of the night, the dark of the night, that sort of noir perspective of how these things happen” Kerr said. It’s a little shocking how brazen and public some of these murders have taken place,” Kerr said.
“I wonder if that is due to the increasing harassing, and drama inflicted, on the trans community,” Kerr continued. “It has become more acceptable to be transphobic, especially in regard to Black trans women. That’s terrifying.”
Starz will be buried on Friday (22 October) in her birthplace of Omaha, Nebraska. There is a a GoFundMe, started by her loved ones, to raise money for her funeral costs.
The GoFundMe reads: “She left a lasting impression on everyone that she met. Her infectious smile and bigger than life personality brightened every room that she walked into.”
“Friends and family of this young black, trans-woman is grieving a life cut short because of a violent crime that she did not deserve. These crimes continue to happen in the trans community every day. Although the main reason of this page is to raise funds for her funeral expenses, it’s also just equally important to raise awareness about violence in the black trans-woman community to avoid similar stories like these from happening again in the future.”