Texas Judge Will Decide If Trans Woman Muhlaysia Booker Will Be Identified As Male Or Female During Trial
Defense attorneys for the man accused of assaulting Booker want her to be identified as male to justify the assault.
According to local news source Fox 4, attorneys for the man accused of assaulting the Dallas woman before she was found shot to death in May want to identify Booker by her birth name and gender. The suspect, Edward Thomas, was caught on tape beating and wounding the 23-year-old in April at a Dallas apartment complex.
Prosecutors want Booker to be identified as a woman. They are fighting to prevent the defense from misgendering their client. However, the defense for Thomas argues if Booker is identified as a woman, bias against men hitting and/or abusing women will heavily influence the jury.
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“In this case, you have a situation where the issue is what name do we put on that indictment, and how do we identify that person,” attorney Demarcus Ward, who is not involved in this case, told Fox 4.
Booker's birth name was Pierre Booker, but she did not recognize or use the name prior to her unfortunate death. An indictment for Thomas' arrest read the suspect was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge against a "P. Booker."
“There could be a big difference for some jurors when there’s a man sitting in that defendant's chair fighting for his freedom, and the person on the other end of that thing identified as a man or identified as a woman,” Ward said.
Judge Hector Garza, who is overseeing the trial, has agreed to allow the indictment to read Muhlaysia Booker instead of Pierre. Attorney Micheal Levine, who is also not involved with the case, said the prosecutors are correct. Despite Booker not changing her name on legal documents, she has every right to be called by her chosen name and pronoun.
“Muhlayshia Booker identified as a female. I think she’s entitled to go by the female pronoun, to go by her chosen female name,” Levine said. “I just think it would be an issue they’d be concerned about if all the documentation identifies her as a male, as Pierre.”
Booker is 1 of 16 trans women murdered this year. Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Thomas are scheduled in court next week for an official decision. A trial regarding the violent assault is scheduled for October.