Community members gathered in Washington Square Park on March 8 to remember the life of Paris Aminah, a transgender woman who was found dead late last month at Housing Works’ East New York Community Health Center.
Paris Aminah aka Diary Unspoken Truth was found on February 27 after someone reported an unconscious individual at Pitkin Avenue and Fountain Avenue, according to the NYPD. That is where Housing Works’ health center is located.
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There are very few details about Aminah’s death. The NYPD said the cause of death would be determined by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on March 9.
“We are devastated to mourn the loss of a community member at our East New York residence,” Housing Works president Matt Bernardo told Gay City News in a written statement. “While this is an ongoing investigation and cause of death has yet to be determined, we stand in grief and outrage at the ongoing violence against trans people, including the many systemic inequities our loved ones face every day.”
Community members who huddled at Washington Square Park lit candles, released balloons, and hosted a platform for folks to speak. Ceyenne Doroshow, the founder and executive director of GLITS, demanded accountability from Housing Works and called on people across the community to step up.
“We trans people, gay people, losing our lives every day, we have to be clear,” Doroshow said. “We have to fight — fight for a purpose. Do something for real. Vote. Be a part of the process.”
Elisa Crespo, the executive director of the statewide organization New Pride Agenda, emphasized the importance of community in the face of adversity.
“We cannot allow this to be normal — the deaths of Black trans women, the deaths of queer and trans people,” Crespo said. “I know many of us are living through fear, through trauma…”
Sean Ebony Coleman, the executive director of Destination Tomorrow in the Bronx, responded to Aminah’s death by urging the community to shed light on cases of injustice.
“Black Trans women are in danger by simply existing,” Coleman said. “Because we lack truly safe and inclusive spaces, adequate legal protections and security, they are living under a constant threat of physical and emotional harm,” Coleman said. “Especially in a city like New York, we can’t allow acts of violence to go undetected or underreported. We owe it to our community and all marginalized communities to thoroughly investigate this incident in hopes that we can use the information to grant our Trans sisters of color the protection and basic human rights they deserve.”