A Detroit pastor has been charged with the murder of a trans woman named Kelly Stough, and prosecutors say the killing was motivated by the religious leader’s hatred for her gender identity.
Stough, 36, was killed on Friday. Prosecutors have charged Albert Weathers, a preacher who reportedly tried to make the shooting look like self-defense.
Prosecutors said they will present evidence in court that Stough’s gender identity was a motivating factor in her murder. According to LGBTQ news site INTO, Weathers called police to report a robbery and claimed he had shot someone in self-defense, though NBC News has not independent confirmed that this call was made.
Friends and family remembered Kelly as a loving, big-spirited and courageous woman who was well known in the Detroit’s ballroom scene.
“I want people to know that because she was transgender doesn’t mean that she was not loved, that she was not cared for,” Jessica Chantae Stough, Kelly’s mother, said in an interview with NBC News. “She has a family who cared about her, who loved her, and I want them to know that transgender ladies — expressly those of color — they’re just not throwaways; people care about them.”
“She was educated, she was God-filled, she loved church, she loved others,” Stough continued. “As a human being in the United States of America, you have the right to be who you want to be, and you shouldn’t be shamed or bullied or persecuted for the choice you make.” The victim’s cousin, Nicole R. Mapson-Cone, started a GoFundMe page to help the family pay for Kelly’s funeral costs.
Stough was loved and had an amazing family. It was a pastor with anti-trans hate in his heart who allegedly saw fit to take her life.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about how the murder actually went down. But what we do know is that it fits within a pattern of violence against the trans community, especially in and around Detroit.
Eliel Cruz, a spokesperson for LGBTQ nonprofit Anti-Violence Project, called violence against trans women “a national epidemic,” and noted Kelly Stough “spoke out on the violence against trans women just a few years ago only to become victim of violence.”
We mourn the loss of her life at the Anti-Violence Project and will work to honor her by uplifting the whole of her life as a vibrant member of the Detroit community and ballroom scene, and not erase her as a number or statistic,” Cruz said.
Indeed, Stough was quoted in 2015 by The Guardian following the murder of a 20-year-old black transgender woman. The article, which quoted Stough using her stage name, Keanna Mattel, focused on trans residents not feeling protected by Detroit’s police: “The police are unaware with our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” Stough told news site. “Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”
Stough was correct then and, sadly, still correct now. Maybe more people will finally see her point, though it would be a sad reality that it took her death for that to actually happen.
(Image via Facebook)