Activists stage protest after stabbing death of transgender woman

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Transgender women and men of color staged a "die-in" on the steps of San Francisco City Hall Tuesday afternoon, calling for change after the brutal murder of a transgender victim earlier this month.

The rally was sparked by the February 1st fatal stabbing of 36 year-old Taja DeJeus near her Bayview District apartment. Activists said she is one of six trans people killed in America so far this year and that the violence must stop.

"We are being killed because our community doesn't stand together. We don't speak as a transgender whole, we blend into society," said Sadaisha Shimmers, a transgender woman.

Trans women said they experience housing and employment discrimination, and are still too often a target for violence. The protesters said that even a progressive city such as San Francisco is not always safe, particularly for trans women of color.

"It just has to stop," said Danielle Castro. "I'm asking the city and county of San Francisco to start a trans-specific commission so that our voices and perspectives are included in our local laws."

Transgendered men and women spoke out during the public comment period in the Board of Supervisors meeting, calling for safe and affordable housing for trans people. Castro also called upon straight people to help fight violence. 

"I want our allies to stop videotaping us with their phones and recording the hate that's committed against us and stand up for us instead of showing us like a circus act on YouTube," said Castro.

A police source on Monday told KTVU the suspect in DeJesus' death apparently killed himself a short time later. Police Chief Greg Suhr on Tuesday said DeJesus' death does not appear to be a hate crime and the case should be closed soon.

"The main thing I want to reassure everybody, this wasn't random, we don't have any evidence that the victim was targeted because the victim was transgender," said Suhr.