Letters From Lea: Transgender woman dies in Cuyahoga Jail

Lea Rayshon Daye,
Ravenovah Youtube / Lea Rayshon Daye,

Transgender woman Lea Rayshon Daye, 28, died in the Cuyahoga County Jail on Aug. 30. If not for letters her mother found in her personal effects the world would have never known.

Lea Rayshon Daye didn’t mail that letter while she was alive. She was afraid it wouldn’t have made it out of the Cuyahoga County Jail, and she was probably right.

Lea Rayshon Daye,
Ravenovah Youtube / Lea Rayshon Daye

In her letters, Lea tells about how Cuyahoga county Jailers terrorized her during her last 100 days alive. She wrote telling of being raped by guards and inmates, sleeping on cell floors, and eating gruel.

As the final indignation, the Sheriff’s Office misgendered and deadnamed her in the death announcement in early September. They had their reason to misidentify her.  The guards, infamously known as “the men in black” raped Lea Rayshon Daye and intimately knew who she was. They knew without knowledge of her authentic name and gender, our road to justice would be littered with barriers.

Cuyahoga County officials have not yet responded to multiple requests for information from Cleveland 19 and planet Transgender.

We wouldn’t have been able to add her name to the TDoR list in time if not for ally Sue Kerr editor of pghlesbian.com, YouTube influencer Ravenovah, and the investigative skills of Anna-Jayne Metcalfe founder of the Trans Lives Matter Project

We now know of 49 US transgender deaths for the 2020 TDoR., 30 by acts of violence,
seven by suicide and 3 due to COVID-19 complications and 1 by pumping. 

Brutalized, misgendered, and in death the final indignation, deadnamed.

Community leaders demand changes.

Rev. Reegie Bunch of the Jail Coalition condemned “the final indignity of misgendering” by jail authorities and then the news media. Ellie Turan, the Community Center’s Director of Development and author of the above mentioned op-ed, called Daye’s death “an extension of lynching.” Gwen Stembridge of Equality Ohio pointed out that half of all Black trans women spend time in prison, and Chris Knestrick of NEOCH added that 30% of transgender people experience homelessness and declared that “housing is a human right.”

Devinity Jones, founder and coordinator of the Community Center’s Trans Wellness Program, spoke movingly about her own experiences with the so-called “justice system.” When she appeared in court to pay a fine, a transphobic judge wrongfully sentenced her to 60 days in jail after making blatantly bigoted comments. In jail, she was subjected to a range of abuses.

Jones was celled with a cisgender male prisoner. Like numerous other prisoners she slept on a mat on the floor, was fed horrible food, had inadequate medical care, was denied basic hygiene and was abused by the vicious guards known as “the men in black.” A guard sexually assaulted her while she was taking a shower. Several years ago her friend Mahogany, also a Black trans woman, died in jail when authorities denied her anti-seizure medication.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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