Another Transgender Murder: Is Anyone Paying Attention?

A 37-year-old transgender woman was shot to death in downtown Oakland last weekend, just a block from Frank Ogawa Plaza/Oscar Grant Park, the former site of Occupy Oakland.

Brandy Martell was sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. last Sunday, chatting with two friends, when one or two men walked up and began a conversation. A witness told ABC7 the conversation was cordial, but then a few minutes later, one of the men became angry and fired into the car right where Martell was sitting.

From ABC7:

Until late last year, Martell worked as an outreach worker at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont which serves the transgender and transsexual community. “When you don’t provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don’t provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it’s socializing or services, this is what happens,” Martell’s friend Tiffany Woods told ABC7.

At this point, investigators are talking to witnesses, to decide whether the shooter was motivated by a perception of the Martell’s sexual identity. Martell’s  friends are convinced the killing was a hate crime.

Just Another Oakland Murder?

Meanwhile, here’s how Oakland’s flagship newspaper, The Oakland Tribune covered Martell’s murder:

The third death occurred around 5:45 a.m., when a person was shot to death at the corner of 13th and Franklin streets, a block from the Burger King where the Saturday incident occurred.

Police responding to reports of shots fired saw the person lying in the roadway, outside another restaurant that apparently had some of its windows shattered by gunfire. The shooting victim, identified as a 37-year-old Hayward resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

And that was it, just a couple of paragraphs about “a person” who died, but no name, no identity.

Transgender People Murdered On Average More Than One Person Per Month

Transgender people face well-documented and unconscionable levels of bias-motivated violence. This is especially true of young, low-income transgender women of color. The stigma associated with being transgender requires transgender people to maintain constant vigilance against sudden brutal violence.

For years, transgender people have been murdered on an average of more than one person per month; many more have been assaulted.

As The Daily Kos points out, “Think about what the newscape would look like if a well-heeled, white, Oakland citizen living on “the right side of the tracks” (or, in Oakland parlance, “the hills”) had been the victim.”

Attention must be paid to this horrifying statistic.

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Photo Credit: screenshot from ABC7news

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49 comments

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Anastasia J.
Annie J.3 years ago

An obvious shame when anyone is murdered, but to think that the crime was motivated by hate of the transgendered, and to know that the victim was trying to help others facing such difficulties makes it all especially sad.

Aimee A.
Aimee A.3 years ago

Thanks for posting!

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.3 years ago

TYPO corrected from below:

"It's Self-Evident; no need to ask me in case 'you aren't sure'."

I was so incensed that I made a typographic error.

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.3 years ago

CLEARLY it was a HATE CRIME.
Otherwise, why weren't the OTHERS with her SHOT too???
It's self Self-Evident; no need to ask me in case 'you aren't sure'.

Carmen Benoit
Carmen Benoit3 years ago

A murder was committed. A human being was shot down in cold blood. What else do we need to do to get justice?

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson3 years ago

What the h*ll!? NO white people were murdered latley? Give it a rest! UNITE AMERICA! ONLY THEN WILL WE STAND FREE!

James Campbell
James Campbell3 years ago

I have read and re-read this article and cannot find any reference to this woman being a sex-worker. What I do find is a badly written, insulting to the dead as well as the living, news article that does not even extend to the victim her own name. This ‘person’ was sitting innocently in her car. Outside this event, she was a worker with people who live on the fringes of society (thanks to our caring, sharing society). Of course the story was at-least reported, but not because it was deemed important, but as a gift to those who thrive on news of the ‘excluded’ being ‘put in their place’. Some posts to this discussion appear to follow this model. If we read further we learn that Brandy Martell was a hard-working woman (I use female pronouns as am not the least interested in her original anatomy, but in her gender identity). She is described as ‘transgendered’ (NB. transgendered’ is not the same as transsexual), but whatever she was, she deserves respect, which includes accurate and unbiased reporting of her death. The death of any innocent person impoverishes us all.
R.I.P Brandy.

Lidia F.

Ok I do not agree with what happened,but I do have an issue that keeps coming up.Everybody is up in arms about this or that person's murder,or bully attacking,yet nobody gives a rats butt that I am being severely abused each and everyday not just by my partner,but by the neighbors,one is is threatening to attack me soon when I leave my apartment.I have been beat up,had eggs thrown at me,had my eyes punched out.Been busted in the lip by a skanky male,most of them or all are.I have had rocks thrown at me,had a two by four thrown at my eye.And low and behold the one that did it now lives next door to me.I am being threatened constantly with bodily harm,yet not one of you gives a damn.Why is it wrong for any other,but when it comes to me,everybody has an arrogant self righteous attitude,and feels I deserve it.Okinawa was 37 years ago,and two psychics said the daughter did it to me in another place and time.So if you are going to spout injustices,then please do so with MARIE BROOKS WAR.I refuse to be a door mat for anybody any longer.Get your moral compass straight,and END THE WAR.Because it is not helping the daughter one iota.


Signed.........THE MONSTER.:)

John F.
John F.3 years ago

"The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes: Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these."