(Image courtesy of FaceBook)
Lamia Beard was a beautiful, kind hearted, high spirited, intelligent woman living in Norfolk, Va. She was extremely musically gifted. She was known for her amazing voice and sang at many weddings, funerals, or just belting out tunes for friends and family. She was also gifted with the oboe, piccolo, flute, cymbals, and piano. She was in the marching band both in high school and college. She attended Norfolk State University with dreams of becoming a music teacher. She loved to dance, travel, was an avid reader, and was fluent in French. She was and still is deeply loved by her close-knit family.
She started 2015 with high hopes of obtaining the life she wanted for herself. She only had a simple goal of finding a job, becoming financially independent, and getting her own place where her nieces and nephews could come over to watch movies. She had fallen onto some harder times following a transcript issue that forced her to leave school. Finding a job was harder for Lamia than it should have been for such an amazing, intelligent woman. You see, Lamia was transgender. She had fully embraced her identity, as had her family and friends, however, finding employment was met with discrimination time and time again.
Unfortunately, the same issues that hindered her in life, have now hindered the investigation into her death.
A 911 call came in shortly before 4am on Saturday, January 17, 2015 that said someone had been shot on East 25th street, in the city’s Park Place neighborhood. Paramedics arrived to find Lamia suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.She was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and succumbed to her injuries shortly after.
Issues arose shortly following Lamia’s death. Media and police officials referred to Lamia by her birth name and used male pronouns – which anyone who knew Lamia, knew her as female. Any witnesses to a female murder would have disregarded pleas for any tips or information for a male victim. Friends, Family, and the LGBT rights advocates criticized the Norfolk Police Department and local media outlets who identified Lamia as a man.
There are reports that there were witnesses to Lamia’s murder, but all have remained silent. Whether it be due to the mishandling of Lamia’s gender in reports and questioning following the murder, or the fear of ramifications as LGBTQ community members themselves. Either way, no clues have been given to the police and lack of evidence has left Lamia’s case unsolved.
“We at VAVP (Virginia Anti-Violence Project) hope that throughout the investigative process, the media, police and the public at large will respect Lamia’s gender identification and maintain a level of decorum and understanding when interacting with those individuals who identify within transgender and queer communities,” said the Virginia Anti-Violence Project in a statement that specifically criticized the Virginian-Pilot over its coverage of Beard’s murder. “One of the first steps to ensuring that no further acts of violence are committed against individuals for perceived or stated sexual or gender identity begins with those who have access to wide audiences, public spaces and the ability to accurately educate the public at large about sensitive issues.”
Family and the VAVP blasted the Norfolk Police Department for highlighting Lamia’s past criminal record, as it had no basis regarding her murder. By doing so, it reinforces to the public that trans lives don’t matter.
Lamia’s obituary describes her as “… a kind person who would give the shirt off her back. She walked in the truth as a genuine person and was wise beyond her years. She was loved by many because of her humble and giving spirit.”
“Lamia’s death is a tremendous loss, and tragedy so early in the year is a painful reminder of the disproportionate violence that transgender women of color face,” saidThe National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Research and Education Coordinator Osman Ahmed in a statement.
Lamia was only 30 years old when she was murdered. She had faced discrimination in life for living freely and openly, but she handled it with grace, and was always looking forward.
If you have any information into the death of Lamia Beard, call Norfolk Homicide Section 757-664-7023