Dominique Rem’mie Fells

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Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black trans woman, was murdered in Philadelphia this week, adding to a trend the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs called an epidemic and a crisis.

A GoFundMe set up by Fells’ family Friday morning to cover funeral expenses for the late 27-year-old has raised more than $100,000 after blowing by its $1,000 goal in just a few hours.

The scene when the body was found on the banks of the Schuylkill River near Bartram’s Garden Monday evening was grisly. Fells had suffered injuries to her head and face and both of her legs had been severed, seemingly by a train. Her death has been officially ruled a homicide, the Philadelphia Police Department told Philadelphia Gay News.

“Dominique, who often went by the name Rem’mie, was truly one of a kind,” Fells’ sister, Dior Edmonds, wrote on GoFundMe. “We can assure all of you that we will not stop until her killers are found and justice is served accordingly.”

Black trans women endure acts of violence on a strikingly regular basis, around the U.S. and in Philadelphia.

In May 2019, Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington was shot to death in North Philly. Shantee Tucker suffered the same fate in Hunting Park in the fall of 2018. Police also investigated the suspicious death of West Philadelphia trans woman Alicia Simmons last November.

Counting Fells, at least seven Philadelphia trans women of color have been murdered in seven years.

“The murder of transgender people — especially those of color — is truly an epidemic, and a crisis that we cannot afford to allow to persist any further,” read a statement from Philly’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

The tragic phenomenon can be felt nationwide. The Human Rights Commission reports that so far in 2020, at least 12 trans people have been murdered in the United States, three of whom were Black.

The day after police found Fells’ body in Philadelphia, another Black trans woman was killed in Ohio. Riah Milton was shot during an attempted robbery in Liberty Township, Ohio, on Tuesday.

People all over the country are sharing news of Fells’ death — including local elected officials and well-known celebrities.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...