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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 4, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PDT

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tonight, joining me on a special edition of "nightline," dominique jackson, one of the stars of the ground breaking tv show "pose", helping bring attention to the fact that this year alone, 18 transgender women of color have been murdered. >> countless more of my trans brothers and sisters have survived brutal attacks. it is something important to me, with many in my community wondering, am i next? >> tonight. >> my name is malaysia. >> the story of malaysia booker, an out and proud trans wom wom m brutal brutally beaten, then murdered. >> my reaction was, am i next?
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>> now taking a stand on the streets. on tv. >> how lucky are we? we create ourselves. >> and on the political stage. >> claire lagato. malaysia booker. >> am i next? trans and targeted will be right back
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good evening, thanks for joining us. we're back now with actress dominique jackson here to highlight the often overlooked state of hate and violence against the transgender community, especially trans women of color. >> it's so important, bal becaue trans community is often unheard and discarded. tonight, emotional and frightening stories from the victims. close your eyes. open your eyes. smile. >> when you see muhlaysia, you instantly see the biggest smile. >> reporter: muhlaysia booker's personality sparkles.. >> she's very infectious. >> my name is muhlaysia and you can call me lay. sfwloo >> hey, best friend. >> reporter: out and proud.
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at 22, a beacon for other trans women in dallas who admired her. like her self-appointed auntie jazmine. >> i have been trans all these years, but i mostly lived in my house. she made me wanna get out and live. and just be visible. >> reporter: but that visibility made muhlaysia a target. in april, a minor fender bender escalating into a horrifying assault. a warning, it's difficult to watch. bystanders capturing it all on video. quickly going viral. muhlaysia later told police her attackers hurled transphobic slurs at her. this man was arrested for the beating and his lawyer tells us he intends to plead not guilty. >> i get the chills coming here. the whole apartment complex was ot there and nobody helped her. >> reporter: after several excruciating minutes, a few women finally drag muhlaysia to safety. unconscious with a concussion and a broken wrist. >> this happens on the daily.
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another one of my friends got killed right up the street from here like four minutes away from here. it breaks my heart but it's reality. as a black trans woman, it makes me feel scared. i feel alone. i feel ashamed. i feel hopeless. >> reporter: muhlaysia was feeling that hopelessness too. after the beating, it was 'auntie' jazmine who muhlaysia asked for. >> i just started praying over her. she pulls me by my shirt and she tells me, auntie, i told you they hate us. our own people hate us. they want us dead. i'm actually like feeling very nervous right now. >> a transgender woman kicked in the street by a group of men and the brutal attack is all on video. >> reporter: it wasn't the first time she had been attacked, but this time muhlaysia chose to speak out. >> this time it was me. the next time it could be someone else. >> reporter: but before she
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faced those cameras, jessica anderson, her best friend from long before she transitioned, helped her get ready. >> when i got, like, done with her makeup, this was the first time, like, i ever seen my best friend look at herself and just be like, "i look really, really pretty. like, i look like a girl." and she was really, really, really beautiful that day. >> i kind stand before you while in other scenarios, we are at a memorial. our time to seek justice is now. if not now, when. >> reporter: a brave, beautiful moment, but muhlaysia would never see justice. just weeks after that rallying cry, in the quiet of an early morning, muhlaysia was found dead. >> detectives found booker. >> muhlaysia booker was shot and killed. >> the victim was positively identified as muhlaysia booker. she was left here on the side of a road. >> i just really can't imagine somebody doin' that to her.
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>> reporter: dallas police arrested this man for her murder. his trial is pending. his alleged motive is unclear. >> muhlaysia was somebody's daughter. muhlaysia booker was human. she wanted to live like everybody else. >> reporter: muhlaysia is one of at least 18 trans women of color who've been killed this year alone. the real number likely higher. the data shows the trans identity of nearly three quarters of victims is initially left out from police and media reports. >> trans rights are human rights! the american medical association calling the violence an 'epidemic'. >> muhlaysia booker, say her name! over several months, we travelled the country hearing similar stories of violence. >> what was your reaction to hear not one but two trans women
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of color gunned down in a matter of months on the same street? >> i was shocked. my reaction honestly was am i next? >> reporter: but ask yourself: if it was any other community being targeted, would there be more outrage? >> i feel like i'm an endangered species and i'm aware of that. but i cannot stop living. >> reporter: the struggles of women like jazmine have been largely ignored. the media spotlight has mostly been on white trans women. like caitlyn jenner, jazz jennings, and kim petras. that's now changing. thanks to boundary-pushing shows like "pose." now, stories about the non-white trans struggle are becoming more visible. >> 11 girls have been killed this year. >> she would have wanted us to honor her memory. leading the charge for awareness. trans celebrities of color themselves.
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like laverne cox, both dominique jackson and indya moore have been open about their past struggles. >> i've already seen the worst of what my life could be. so it's very easy for me to stand up for myself and others without thinking too much about the risks that come with that and even more so accepting what they may be. >> reporter: the risks are something these trans youth face daily, finding a safe haven at casa ruby, in the nation's capital. >> when you're in this life it's survival of the fittest. >> many say they've opinion kickbeen kicked out of their homes for being trans. >> you come here to find love and support. >> have you ever been abused, physically abused out in the world? >> i mean, once, i've been raped. >> bianca, that is not normal. you just dismissively say i was raped five times. >> yeah, because i don't want to
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give any emotion to it. if you don't give anything to it, it won't grow. i'm not trying to give any emotion to that. >> i've been followed home. i've been stalked. i've had guys fry to sexually harass me and just like in disrespectful ways. >> we wake up in a world that is not designed to support transgender people, to welcome us in school, to give us a chance to get an education. employers are not generally accepting to hire us. my job is to restore their dignity. my number one role here is to restore everything that has been taken away from them. >> reporter: but when pushed to the margins, some trans women of color turn to what they call survival sex work. >> when we're doing it, we're looking for the next dollar. girls have been stabbed and
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thrown out of cars. >> if you don't find that nurturing that you need to survive, more than likely you will die then. most of us die before we're 30. >> reporter: zoe spears never made it to 30. she was 23 when she was killed this past june. >> this is our memorial. to zoe and ashanty. they lost their lives this year. >> reporter: ruby takes pictures of all the girls like zoe, who call this place home for a very poignant reason. >> i want to have the closest reminder, because i know there's the possibility that they won't come back. >> reporter: that's just heartbreaking. >> reporter: here on the outskirts of dc, on a street known for survival sex work, is where zoe took her last breath. >> she was shot on her back.
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>> you can't run away from guns and hate when they live in your community. >> reporter: ruby has lost more than 30 of her girls in the past seven years. but the hurt stings just as much every time. >> i couldn't be here. i've been in her life for a long time. i've been her protector and i couldn't save her. >> at the end of the day what killed zoe spears. society killed zoe. she had a lot of dreams and every door that she knocked very often they will say no. >> reporter: when we come back,
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>> they're threatening me and my friend. we don't feel safe. >> reporter: how a girls night out ended next like this. performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned, feeding-frenzy-of sheet-metal-kind. and then there's performance that just leaves you feeling better as a result. that's the kind lincoln's about. ♪ stop dancing around the pain that keeps you up again, and again. advil pm silences pain, and you sleep the whole night. advil pm hendless shrimp even hotter?s you bring back nashville hot! oh yeah - it's back.
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reporter: it's one in the morning, downtown denver. on this busy street, after a night of drinking, and stumbling out of a bar, amber nicole is terrified for her life. >> so i have my friend recording this just in case anything
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happens, if i get jumped, and my friends car gets attacked i just want everybody to know its because of these boys who are attacking us. keep recording, keep recording. >> i felt like we weren't safe. i had to get help. >> reporter: that's when she's beaten. she says multiple times. somehow staggering back into frame. >> oh, my god, somebody hurt you, babe. >> i'll bleeding, i'm bleeding so bad. >> call the cops! >> engine six, respond to a party bleeding at 14th st. and market st. >> reporter: amber is rushed to the hospital. her jaw shattered. all her mother juls martinez can do is bear witness to her daughter's pain. >> my worst fear was here. like, "is she okay? is she breathing? is she alive?" >> so what's the first memory that you do have?
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waking up. i had so much blood in my mouth and my throat, all over. this wasn't just some black eye. it wasn't some scrapes and bruises. >> this is someone's child. this is a human being. this is a beautiful young woman. >> reporter: her jaw, wired shut for a month. but she says, she wanted the world to see her wounds. >> i felt like i was being choked and then i realized it was from the pressure of my jaw resting on my neck because it was dislocated. just in case if anything happens. >> when you look back at the video of that night that you recorded, what goes through your mind? >> it terrifies me. i hear the fear in my voice, just knowing that i knew something was coming. >> and did anyone stop to help you? >> nobody stopped. >> reporter: to this day there's been no arrest. three months after the attack, she's going back to the
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hospital. >> what's the news you're hoping for today? >> i'm hoping that the plates are removable. i'm hoping that everything has healed the way that it needs to and that in the future i can get constructive surgery. >> reporter: her jaw is still held together by metal plates. her bones have yet to fully heal. >> what was your reaction when you saw the x-ray? >> it takes me back. i've been jumped. i've been assaulted. >> reporter: she's one of the lucky ones. amber nicole's near death experience, she says, has empowered her to speak in honor of her fallen sisters. >> ashanti. joining, activists like monica roberts, who says it all starts by saying their names.
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>> it is important to be respected in death, but by doing that respectful coverage it helps. >> reporter: for 13 years, her blog trans griot, an homage to african storytelling, has made it a mission to correct every news article and police report that misgenders trans women. >> i wanted to role model what a story looked like to the media that respectfully covered trans folks. >> reporter: only then, she says, can the tragic stories of these women enter the mainstream consciousness. >> clara logato, brooklyn, muhlaysia booker. her voice, joining a chorus of activists and al >> she was married to kristy thompson. >> clara muhlaysia booker. >> say her name! while their lives were cut short, their memories will live on.
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>> we do not talk enough about tran trans americans. >> we're queer, we're fabulous, and we're staying here. >> we no longer have a voice on this earth, but let's give that to them by saying their names, saying what happened to them and speaking out about it. >> reporter: serving as inspiration, for a community too often forced to ask, "am i next?" ♪ things are getting clearer, yeah i feel free ♪ ♪ to bare my skin ♪ yeah that's all me. ♪ nothing and me go hand in hand ♪ ♪ nothing on my skin ♪ that's my new plan. ♪ nothing is everything. keep your skin clearer with skyrizi. 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months. of those, nearly 9 out of 10 sustained it through 1 year. and skyrizi is 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses.
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and finally tonight, we should note that many in the trans community face the harshest conditions after they're forced out by their families. >> you're forced to do drugs to cope. it's very harsh. >> and we're looking at high rates of homelessness, drug abuse and suicide attempts. >> yes, i've lived it all. that's why visibility is so important. when we're visible, people living with certain ideologies or in certain places know it's okay to be ourselves. we're human first, and then
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trans. >> i can't thank you enough for being here, sharing your insights. and thank you for joining us tonight. we'll have more on our facebook "nightline" page. we leave you with the names and faces of the trans women of color whom we've lost this year.
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