BRAVO (Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization) responds to the homicide of Rae’Lynn Thomas, a 28-year-old transgender woman of color in Columbus, Ohio.
Reports indicate that Rae’Lynn was shot and killed allegedly by James Allen Byrd, a person who lived inside the family’s home. BRAVO is working with Columbus organizations and individuals throughout Ohio to offer our assistance in supporting the family, friends, and community of Rae’Lynn during this difficult time.
Although the Columbus Division of Police have not released information about the motivation for the crime at this time, the possibility of hate motivation regarding her gender identity must always be considered, given the ongoing prevalence of violence faced by transgender/gender non-conforming people here in Ohio and nationwide.
Rae’Lynn’s family members are reported to have told the police and media that they believe this to be a hate crime. The murder of Rae’Lynn Thomas in Columbus comes ten days after the murder of Skye Mockabee in Cleveland, both transgender women of color. This marks the second transgender women of color murdered in Ohio and the 17th murder of a transgender/gender non-conforming person nationally in 2016. BRAVO is saddened to learn of this most recent homicide. “Our hearts, minds and condolences are with the family, friends, and community of Rae’Lynn in this time of tragedy. As all of us are still mourning and reeling from the death of Skye just about two weeks ago, all of us at BRAVO are saddened and outraged as our communities continue to be repeatedly targeted and we remain steadfast in providing services to the LGBTQI communities of Ohio,” said Aaron Eckhardt, Training and Technical Assistance Director of BRAVO. “We must continue to come together as a broad community of support to say hate has no home in Ohio, until hate has no home anywhere,” Eckhardt added.
BRAVO is a member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). In the most recent report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected Communities in the United States in 2015, BRAVO documented 71 incidents of anti-LGBTQI hate violence incidents in Ohio representing a 10% increase from 2014. Nationally, NCAVP received reports on 24 hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in 2015, which was a 20% increase in the number of reports compared to 2014. Continuing an alarming multi-year trend, people of color and transgender and gender nonconforming people made up the majority of victims of LGBTQ and HIV-affected related hate violence.
“Sadly, we know that hate violence in its many forms is intended to instill a message of hate and fear throughout our entire community. Hate crimes largely go under-reported, or not reported at all, and people are left with restoring their sense of safety and security on their own. BRAVO can help,” said McCauley.
BRAVO encourages anyone who has experienced anti-LGBTQ violence in Ohio to contact us toll free, 866-86-BRAVO or visit our website http://www.bravo-ohio.org. To learn more about our statewide advocacy and services, receive technical assistance, or support, contact BRAVO. For help locating an anti-violence program in your area, please visit www.ncavp.org.
BRAVO stands in solidarity with all Ohioans and has been working closely with organizations and individuals throughout the state including TransOhio, and Equality Ohio as we come together responding to this heinous act of violence.
BRAVO is a founding member of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
BRAVO works to eliminate violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identification, domestic violence, and sexual assault through prevention, education, advocacy, violence documentation, and survivor services, both within and on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.