CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Trans rights rally held in Downtown Pittsburgh in 2018
On Jan. 1, a victim was found dead of a fatal gunshot wound in Wilkinsburg. According to local LGBTQ advocacy group SisTers PGH, that victim was Amarey Lej, a 21-year-old Black trans woman.
Allegheny County Police have launched an investigation into the death, according to KDKA
, but police did not identify her in the initial report. Police said they responded to the 1300 block of Wood Street in Wilkinsburg around 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 and found Lej’s body in the street.
“Amarey was a bright woman and former student at Woodland Hills. We at SisTers PGH would like to send her fellow classmates our deepest condolences, but also our deepest gratitude, as you rose in protection of Amarey when she needed it most,” reads a statement from SisTers PGH
Lej, who is also known as Myara, is one of at least a half dozen trans people of color
to die untimely deaths over the last 12 months in the Pittsburgh region. Chyna Carrillo was killed in Lawrence County, an hour north of Pittsburgh, on Feb. 18, 2021 and siblings Jasmine Cannady and Jeffrey “JJ” Bright were killed in Ambridge, just 30 minutes from the city, on Feb. 22, 2021. Audura Belle also died earlier the same month due to lack of health care, according to statements from her friends and family. Angel Naira was killed in Aliquippa in November.
There were nearly 50 killings of trans people in 2021 across the U.S., and the majority of those were trans people of color.
“Amarey was not the first, but it is up to every one of us to fight like hell to make sure she is the last,” reads the statement from SisTers PGH. “This is our time, as trans people and activists, to gather and engage in conversations regarding safety and policy. It is our time to demand not only justice for Amarey, but for all of us.”