25-year-old Ciara McElveen was a joy. As pictures of her surface on the internet, it’s immediately apparent that she enjoyed life’s small pleasures much like most of her peers – down to the millennial cultural staples like foodie shots and mirror selfies before a night out with friends – reflecting a full existence and at times, even a carefree one. If nothing else, Ciara took charge off her own narrative and charmingly described herself as a “very smart and nice individual looking for new friends” on her Facebook profile. She had moxie.
Ciara’s death came just two days after well-known ballroom performer Chyna Doll Dupree was found dead in a New Orleans parking lot. Reports surrounding what actually transpired are still unclear, but by most accounts, it appears that she had been in a car with someone and was stabbed by the driver before being dragged onto the street and left for dead.
At her memorial service, Ciara’s friend Dheran Dupree described her as “a fun and loving person” who maintained her kind nature in the face of a long struggle with problems involving her relatives, a situation that is unfortunately not unique to Ciara’s case. Members of the trans community are often shunned by family members and, according to a recent survey, have reported high levels of mistreatment, harassment, and violence in every aspect of life. One in ten (10%) of those who were out to their immediate family reported that a family member was violent towards them because they were transgender, and 8% were kicked out of the house because they were transgender.
This year, Women’s History Month began with a historic number of reported deaths for trans women like Ciara – and history tells us that without intentional intervention and action, this violence will escalate and these women’s stories will continue to be erased. We at SPARK are celebrating Ciara’s life and enduring spirit in honor of Women’s History Month and the National Day Of Action For Trans Women of Color with the hope that the violence against trans women will end if we continue to shine a light on this tragic phenomenon. Participating in this day of action is just one step toward living this value. Click here to sign up for an action or find information about an action in your area.