Oakland North has a melancholy but excellent account of a small celebration of life held over the weekend for slain trans woman Brandy Martell. Friends and acquaintances gathered to look at pictures and tell stories of Martell's life and all she meant to them, celebrating her identity as a trans woman after the family funeral, sadly, where Martell's body had been dressed for burial as a man.
37-year-old Martell was shot at point blank range on April 29 in downtown Oakland after she had been socializing out of her car with several other trans women into the wee hours of the morning. Oakland police have yet to name a suspect in the murder, which many people see as obviously having been a hate crime. Police say the investigation is ongoing, and they would like for more witnesses that night to come forward. For now, with no suspect, they say they do not "have a witness to firm up and say now we can categorize this as a hate crime." At least two of the other women in the car saw the suspected shooter, however one has previously said she had fallen asleep in the backseat at the time of the shooting.
Friends who knew Martell as an administrator at TransVision, a community-based clinic for trans people in Fremont, joked about her love for Popeye's chicken (which they served at the event) and about her sense of humor.
"For those of you who came into the office, she used to make fun of you the minute you walked out the door,” says friend and coworker Tiffany Woods. “She could impersonate you in five seconds."