Transgender Advocate And Ballroom Figure Jahaira DeAlto Fatally Stabbed In Her Boston Home
Jahaira DeAlto was known as a legend in the transgender community.
May 10, 2021 at 6:20 pm
A community is in mourning after transgender activist and ballroom figure Jahaira DeAlto was stabbed to death in her Massachusetts home alongside her friend, 28-year-old Fatima Yasin.
“While the world was celebrating the season premiere of @poseonfx last night, the entire @houseofbalenciaga is currently mourning the final season of a family members life," Pose star Indya Moore wrote on Instagram. “Jahairah was someone one we all loved dearly and was murdered yesterday. Ballroom isn’t simply entertainment..it’s our culture, our lives, our families and our real life stories.”
On May 2, Boston police responded to a call about a person who was stabbed on Taft Street in Dorchester. When authorities arrived, they found an unresponsive DeAlto beside a dog that had also been stabbed and Yasin. Yasin's two children, ages 7 and 8, were inside the home at the time but were unharmed. Authorities have since identified Yasin’s husband, Marcus Chavis, as a suspect.
Officers discovered the two women in separate bedrooms, "each suffering from serious stab wounds to the neck,” the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office reported. Yasin was still alive when police arrived and later died after being transported to the hospital.
“My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the two women whose lives were violently stolen, ” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said. “Staff assigned to my office’s Victim Witness Assistance Program have been in contact with the victims’ families to extend our condolences and to provide ongoing support and resources, especially for the children whose lives have been forever changed. We have also reached out to stakeholders within Boston’s transgender community, which Ms. DeAlto was dedicated to elevating. We are here to support the families, individuals and communities impacted by Ms. DeAlto and Ms. Yasin’s murders as they begin their long journey toward healing.”
Multiple reports stated DeAlto was housing Yasin, Chavis and the two children at the time of the incident. Chavis had a history of struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, and told police he couldn’t remember how the stabbings occurred, Boston25 reported.
“Jahaira was a legend for the trans community,” Nolan Tesis, one of the 42-year-old’s close friends told GBH 89.7. “She was a mother to so many that didn't have parents. I think that she took the most pride in her role as a grandmother and a mother, a chosen family for many individuals in the LGBTQ community.”
“Whether it was an attack towards a trans identity or not, a lot of trans women of color meet this demise because they navigate so much violence in their lives," Tesis said.
To those who knew her, DeAlto was someone who poured life into others and was filled with “passion, drive, humanity, humor and fierce vision."
“She had so much life and caring for people that to know that is gone so quickly, I can’t find the words for it,” her friend Alice Guss told NBC Boston.
DeAlto was actively involved in the transgender community as an employee of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, a support group for domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims, and the SafeLink hotline in Boston. DeAlto was also a founder of the Berkshire Transgender Day of Remembrance and the Berkshire Pride Festival, HRC reports.
“Jahaira DeAlto was a beloved member of the ballroom community, a community leader and a tireless advocate for folks experiencing domestic abuse,” the Transgender Law Center, the nation’s largest trans-led civil rights organization, wrote in a tweet Monday. “We honor your life today, Jahaira, and we are devastated by your loss. We send love to all who loved you.”
Jahaira M. DeAlto was a beloved part of the Ballroom community, a community leader, and a tireless advocate for folks experiencing domestic abuse. We honor your life today, Jahaira, and we are devastated by your loss. We send love to all who loved you.https://t.co/GGrP6q0G5l— TransgenderLawCenter (@TransLawCenter) May 3, 2021
DeAlto's ballroom community, The House of Balenciaga, also acknowledged her death and reminded people not to forget her legacy.
“The House of Balenciaga regretfully acknowledges the death/murder of our own Jahaira M. DeAlto, a community advocate and friend to many,” Harold Balenciaga wrote on Facebook.“Let us not forget her ongoing work against domestic abuse and continue to uplift her name and ensure her memory lives on in this ironic twist of fate."
Chavis has been charged with two counts of murder. A judge ordered he be held without bail, according to NBC Boston.