Community

Ashton Praised as a Compassionate Person

The recent murder of a young, transgender woman has touched the lives of many people in Ward 8, especially a grandfather known for his work in the community.

Taya Ashton, a 20-year-old African American transgender woman, died of gunshot wounds in her Suitland, Md., residence on July 17. DeAllen Devonte Price, a resident of District Heights, has been charged with first and second-degree murder, assault and gun charges by Prince George’s County officials. It has been widely reported that on the arrest warrant, Ashton and Price had an intimate relationship for a few months.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading civil rights organization fighting for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people, noted Ashton’s death as a tragedy and not unusual.

“HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ashton,” the organization said in a July 31 statement. “Taya’s death is at least the 31st death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported—or misreported.”

Ashton’s death reflects a disturbing trend in recent years. HRC reported 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, more than in any other year since the organization started tracking this violence in 2013.

According to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-fourths of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. The uptick in this type of crime takes place as civil rights advocates say a 43 percent  increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019. Speaking about Ashton, Lindsey Clark, HRC Associate Director of the Transgender Justice Initiative said “Taya was just at the beginning of her life—a life that she deserved to live to the fullest.” Clark said “Black transgender women continue to be killed in this country, and this violence is unacceptable.” She said “everyone from friends and family to community organizers and allies, needs to speak out with urgency.” Clark added “We must end the stigma and violence that all transgender and gender non-conforming people face.”

PROUD GRANDPA ANDERSON

Longtime Ward 8 political and civic activist Stuart Anderson let everyone know of his pride in his grandchild, Ashton.

“The kid just wanted to have fun,” Anderson said. “The kid was a budding entrepreneur, doing pop-ups and worked as a substitute teacher. Ashton would raise money for all types of causes. My grandchild was a genuine good person.”

Anderson said Ashton would come see him “two or three times a week.” He said Ashton “would sometimes bring grandfather a meal” and “then ask for some money.”

“I would say you are acting like a 12-year-old,” he said.

However, Anderson expressed concerns about the inaccuracies regarding the portrayal of his grandchild in the media and by some members of law enforcement. He said Ashton didn’t know Price “that well.”

Plus, he forcefully argued against police officers and news reports that said Ashton didn’t die due to being transgender.

“That is completely not true,” he said. “My grandchild died because she was transgender. I worked to get them to correct that statement.”

Anderson said he understands Ashton’s death has become another incidence of hate.

“There have been similar events against the trans community,” he said. “Violence against trans people doesn’t get the attention it deserves and that needs to change.”

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