Lawmaker Calls Anti-Trans Violence An ‘Epidemic’ After Trans Woman Is Killed

Minnesota State Rep. Leigh Finke on Thursday called anti-trans violence an “epidemic” after a transgender woman was found dead by a Minneapolis light rail station, with a gunshot wound to the head.

Damarean Bible, 25, was charged with second-degree murder following the Nov. 29 discovery of slain 38-year-old Savannah Williams, according to jail records reviewed by HuffPost.

Savannah Williams, via GoFundMe.
Savannah Williams, via GoFundMe.

A probable cause statement obtained by HuffPost said that Minneapolis police had responded to a report of an unresponsive person in a courtyard.

Witnesses told police that they heard shooting at around 5:45 a.m. Surveillance footage showed Williams and man later identified as Bible near the area just before the shooting took place, according to police.

Bible was seen walking out of the courtyard alone, police added.

He was arrested at his apartment and taken to jail, where he called his father and allegedly confessed to killing Williams.

“He stated he felt sorry for killing victim and knew he wasn’t God, but he ‘had to do it,’” the probable cause statement said.

According to police, Bible told officers that he met Williams while walking past a bus shelter, where she asked him if he wanted to engage in a sex act.

Bible told officers he agreed but that as Williams performed oral sex on him, he felt “suspicious” of her and shot her in the head, the probable cause statement said.

Bible is set to appear in court on Jan. 9, according to jail records.

At a Thursday press conference, Finke, the first openly trans legislator to serve in Minnesota, said passing bills is not enough to address what she called the epidemic of anti-trans violence.

“Our communities will not be safe until every one of our neighbors sees our humanity, celebrates our individuality, and embraces this beautiful community that loves and is worthy of love,” she said.

Also at the press conference, Gabrielle Stillday, Williams’ sister, said that she did not believe her sister deserved to be killed.

Stillday said her sister’s gender, past and criminal record were not the reasons why she was slain. On a GoFundMe page to raise money for a funeral, Stillday said that her sister, a “two-spirit trans woman,” was the victim of a hate crime.

The Minnesota House’s Queer Legislative Caucus, which includes Finke as a member, said in a statement that Williams’ death highlights the “dangers and discrimination” faced by transgender individuals.

“Savannah’s death cannot be treated as an isolated incident,” it said. “It is a consequence of a society that dehumanizes and marginalizes transgender people throughout their lives, even in the face of unspeakable loss.”

According to data from the Human Rights Campaign, at least 33 transgender and gender nonconforming people were killed over the past year, with 69.7% being transgender women.

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