Metro Weekly

Friday night vigil will remember slain transgender woman

Keyonna Blakeney's murder follows on the heels of a year marked by anti-trans violence

Keyonna Monroe Blakeney (Photo: Facebook).
Keyonna Monroe Blakeney (Photo: Facebook).

The local D.C. area LGBT community, now in morning, will come together for a vigil on Friday, April 22, to honor the life of Keyonna Monroe Blakeney, a 22-year-old transgender woman who was killed Saturday at a Rockville hotel.

Trans United Fund, the recently formed trans-specific political advocacy organization, along with LGBT community center Casa Ruby, the Trans Women of Color Coalition, Baltimore Transgender Alliance, and other groups and activists, will host the vigil outside the Montgomery County Council chambers, at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The vigil will kick off at 6 p.m. 

Blakeney was found murdered shortly before noon on Saturday in her room at the Red Roof Inn, located in the 16000 block of Shady Grove Road in Rockville. She suffered trauma to her upper body in the attack. Montgomery County Police are urging anyone with information about the murder or the hours around when it occurred to contact them in order to help solve the case.

Blakeney’s murder comes just a few months after 34-year-old transgender Shante Thompson was fatally shot in Houston, and less than a year after 21-year-old Zella Ziona was shot in the head in broad daylight near a Gaithersburg strip mall. Last year, according to LGBT activists, at least 21 transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals were violently killed. Many of those murders remain unsolved.

“The epidemic of violence against trans people continues unabated, and we fear could only increase given the vicious attacks on trans people nationwide by anti-trans politician and organizations,” Ruby Corado, the executive director of Casa Ruby, said in a statement. “We all must take a stand to hold the police, public officials and the media accountable and do their jobs investigating and reporting this murder and others. We will continue to advocate for greater protections and resources for our trans family.”

“Part of Trans United Fund’s mission is helping increase the capacity of transgender organizations and visibility for the many issues trans populations face, from violence to poverty to homelessness,” said Monica Roberts, a Houston resident and founding member of TUF. “We are proud to stand with Casa Ruby and all of the organizations fighting for the lives and safety of transgender people across the country, from Washington, D.C. to Houston, Texas, and anywhere we are targeted.”

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