More than 400 mourners paid tribute on Tuesday to Muhlaysia Booker, the 23-year-old transgender woman shot and killed in Dallas earlier this month.
They gathered inside Cathedral of Hope singing songs, reading Bible verses and reflecting on her life.
“Today, we gather to mourn with the family,” said Stephanie Martin, a pastor at Cosmopolitan Congregation of Dallas. “But also to celebrate the life of Muhlaysia Booker, a young woman whose life was cut short by hatred, which has left yet another indelible stain on God’s tapestry of love and equality.”
Martin said she hoped Booker’s memory would inspire others to become “an agent of change” in honor of Booker.
Booker was found dead on May 18, more than a month after video captured her being viciously beaten in a front of a crowd. According to police, that attack happened after she accidentally backed into a vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle pulled a gun out and wouldn’t let her leave unless she paid for the damage. A person in the crowd offered money to a man to beat Booker. Other people also struck her as the crowd watched.
Booker’s death has drawn national attention. And several local leaders, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, attended her funeral.
The Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate were among those that issued proclamations in Booker’s honor. One of those proclamations was submitted by Dallas Democratic State Sen. Royce West.
Bethany Freeman, a minister with the Cosmopolitan Congregation of Dallas, read it out loud.
“She was described by her friends and family as someone who lived in her truth. Her truth being that she was beaten just because. She was murdered just because. When will we be moved past the just because?
“Because transgender rights are human rights.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, five transgender people have been killed this year. In 2018, the organization reported 26 transgender people were killed, most of them black transwomen.