A transgender woman, who was gunned down at the corner of Brandon and Red Bud Streets in Houston’s Sunnyvale neighborhood on December 13, has become the 28th trans person murdered in the U.S. in 2017.
Twenty-six-year-old Debarione “Brandi” Seals was in her car around 6 a.m. Neighbors told Fox 26 they heard a series of gunshots, which hit Seals’ car and a neighbor’s garage. “I heard six of them,” a neighbor, Ollie Carter said. “Boom, boom, boom! Then a silence. And then boom! Then boom, boom!”
After the shooting, it appears Seals got out of her car and collapsed in the driveway of a home under construction.
Fox 26 reported Seals was working as a prostitute to help fund expenses related to her transition. A review of Seals’ record reveals she had previously been arrested on various occasions for petty theft, prostitution and other minor offenses.
Houston homicide detective Fil Waters misgendered Seals when speaking to the press. “The fact is that we have a man in women’s clothing. The speculation is he’s been working the street, that someone picks up and then realizes he’s not what he’s representing himself to be and take this kind of ultimate action,” Waters said.
According to GLAAD, victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly trans women of color.
Besides Seals, other trans women murdered in Texas this year include Kenne McFadden of San Antonio, Gwynevere River Song of Waxahachie and Stephanie Montez of Corpus Christi.
“He was a loving person,” Maria Cheeks, Seals’ aunt, told the media. “A beautiful person. I mean yes, he can pass for a woman, because he was just that beautiful. You know what I’m saying?”
“Whoever took his life, they have to answer,” Cheeks added. “The higher power of God. You will have to answer to him.”
A vigil for Seals was held in Houston on the evening of December 14 at the site of her murder in Sunnyvale. A second vigil is planned at 5 p.m. Friday, December 15 in front of Houston City Hall.