Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs Releases Statement on Death of Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells

June 15, 2020

The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs released the following statement on the death of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a transgender woman:

“With sorrow and anger, we note the untimely passing of Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells in Philadelphia. Dominique was a beloved friend to many in Philadelphia, where she made her home. We hold her memory close as we mourn this loss and celebrate her life. Her kind smile will long be remembered by her friends.
“Dominique lived without statewide discrimination protections, as our General Assembly, uniquely among its area peers, has yet to provide such protections to the LGBTQ+ community. In a month when we are under attack by the White House, it is bitter to remember that we could be protected under state law but our lawmakers have chosen to withhold these basic protections. In 1975, Pennsylvania led the nation by becoming the first state to ban public sector employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Where has that legacy of leadership gone in the legislature?
“We also stand in sympathy and solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community of Ohio, as they mourn the passing of Riah Milton, who was lost to an act of violence. Unfortunately, neither Ohio or Pennsylvania protect their transgender citizens from the ‘trans panic’ defense, allowing those who take our lives to claim that our transgender identity somehow excuses or mitigates their murderous behavior.
“As we celebrate Pride Month, we remember that many of the leaders who began the righteous riot we call Stonewall were Black trans women. We also mourn the 49 people killed at the Pulse Nightclub Massacre on June 12, 2016. We must stand together as a community to insist on full rights for transgender people and for an end to discrimination against trans people and all people of color.
“Remember her joy. Celebrate her life. Say her name.”

In a joint statement, Commissioners Ciora Thomas, Celena Morrison and Naiymah Sanchez added:

“Waking up in a world that does not want us to exist is horrifying, even more, horrifying while doing the important work to service our trans and nonbinary communities of Pennsylvania.
“Dominique did not deserve to lose her life. She deserved to live, thrive, and be prosperous in this world as do every transgender and nonbinary person within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“In Pennsylvania, we have already lost so many black and brown trans people due to violence and transphobia, and, make no mistake, these are hate crimes and should be categorized as such.
“Trans people have been facing genocide across this country and within this state because we are born into a cistemic system that is intentionally set up for us to fail and fall by the hands of others or ourselves. While we mourn another loss in the trans community, I want to highlight the importance of continuing to be unified and not going out alone.
“Our society is collectively responsible for every death in the Black trans community, and we must continue to demand to be recognized, to be protected, and to have these hate crimes against our community eradicated.”

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