UPDATE, Aug 19: Muhlaysia Booker will not be deadnamed or misgendered in her assault case.
Judge Hector Garza of Texas 195th Criminal District Court ruled on Thursday, August 29 that Booker—a transgender woman who was shown being beaten in a viral video one month prior to her murder—will be referred to as Muhlaysia in the indictment and trial against her assailant, Edward Thomas.
Transgender Pride of Dallas, the organization in charge of Dallas’ annual transgender Pride event, broke the news via Facebook.
“Judge Garza ruled against defense attorney Andrew Wilkerson’s motion today. Muhlaysia Booker will be referred to as Muhlaysia in the indictment and at the trial against her assailant, Edward Thomas,” Transgender Pride of Dallas wrote.
For more information about the Transgender Pride of Dallas, visit facebook.com/transgenderprideofdallas.
Defense attorneys for a man being charged in an aggravated assault case against a transgender woman are asking that the woman be deadnamed and misgendered during the trial.
Muhlaysia Booker was found shot to death on a Dallas street in May. One month prior, a video of the 23-year-old being beaten went viral. Edward Thomas, 29, is being prosecuted for beating Booker, and the trial is set to begin in October.
Judge Hector Garza of Texas 195th Criminal District Court this week will rule whether Booker’s preferred name or deadname will appear on the indictment. Garza has already once decided that Booker was to be referred to as Muhlaysia, but Thomas’ attorneys have objected.
Attorneys wrote that the victim is “legally male by gender,” according to a report by Fox 4 News. “To name him ‘Muhlaysia’ Booker could have the jury wrongfully conclude that [he] is female… Thus is prejudicial against our client, who is male.”
The lawyers also noted that Booker’s last name was never legally changed.
However, as Out Magazine puts it, the name change process for trans people is notoriously difficult. There is no standardized way for trans people to change government documents in Texas, according to the Texas Observer. These structural issues likely prevented Booker from getting a legal name change and gender marker change.
“Not only are the defense judges arguing to allow for blatant transphobia to be admitted into the court record, but they are doing so for the specific reason of skewing how the jury views what took place,” Out says. “If they are allowed to do so, it could prevent the legal team pursuing justice on Booker’s behalf.”
A suspect for Booker’s death has been identified and charged.