Transgender woman Katherine Johnson of Little Rock Arkansas took her own life Jan 5, 2016. While her family’s obituary misgenders her and uses her birth name, her friends posted about Katherine on her facebook profile commiserating with one another, remembering and commemorating the life of transgender woman Katherine Johnson of Little Rock Arkansas.
The Transgender Violence Facebook group first alerted us to this tragedy by sharing a post by Adam Lodestone who wrote “Safe Passage to our sister, Katherine Johnson, of Little Rock, Arkansas ~ who took her own life, Tuesday, January 5, 2016. She was born in Pine Bluff on February 26, 1990. Katherine had served in the United States Navy and was a current student at UALR.
(TW: The official obituary, published by Katherine’s family, should anyone read it, lists her deadname and misgenders her)
Adam continues. “As I read through her posts and as I witness her as seen through the eyes of her friends and family, I see that Katherine was an artistic, optimistic, passionate, funny, wise, and loving soul who always had time to listen to others ~ was always willing to help others. Her friends give their testimony, below. I could think of no more fitting dedication than that.”
“A young Arkansas transgender woman named Katherine Johnson recently took her own life through suicide. Those that knew her her are saying on Facebook that her family did not support her transition. Now, the family is disrespecting her identity in death by using her former name (known in the trans community as “dead name”) in her obituary. Another tragedy unfolding in our community.” – Evelyn Rios
Andrea Zekis Policy Director at Basic Rights Oregon and Victory Empowerment Fellow at Victory Fund & Institute wrote:
“I’m terribly saddened to lose a friend. Katherine Johnson was referred to me when I led a support group in Little Rock. She worked so hard, holding jobs at the Banana Republic and Big Orange (the fruit salad, as I would put it.) that she would not have a lot of time for socializing. Still, I felt so happy to assist her with the name change process, and even invited her to take part in a paid photo shoot for an educational guide, which helped her pay the bills. She was beautiful inside and out, but she faced a tragedy that’s all too common in the transgender community. Suicide. It’s so important to check in on people, tell them how much you love them, and we never forget how vulnerable and fragile life is. Check yourself today, take care of your self care…then do what you can to come together and never forget her. #katherinejohnson”