Jahaira DeAlto BalenciagaAge 42 (born 4 Mar 1979)
2 May 2021
Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
Jahaira was one of two women (the other being Fatima Yasin) stabbed in the neck by Fatima's husband. Two young children who were present at the time were fortunately unharmed.
Marcus Chavis, 35, was arrested at the scene and confessed to killing the two women.
On Sunday Transgender woman Jahaira DeAlto, 42, was murdered at her home in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Jahaira DeAlto was hosting Marcus Chavis and his family when Chavis killed her and his wife, Fatima Yasin, while also stabbing a dog, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. They haven’t determined a motive for the attack.
The man accused of killing 28-year-old Fatima Yasin and 42-year-old transgender woman Jahaira DeAlto was ordered held without bail Monday, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a press release.
The officers located Ms. Yasin and Ms. DeAlto in separate bedrooms, each suffering from serious stab wounds to the neck. Tragically, both victims succumbed to their injuries. A dog with a stab wound was also located in the same bedroom as Ms. DeAlto and taken to MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center for treatment.
The children who were present were physically uninjured and are currently safe and being cared for.
Jahira was an activist who advocated for equality and for victims of abuse and an active member of the ballroom community.
The ballroom community is mourning the death of a legend this week after news broke that activist Jahaira DeAlto died after being stabbed on Sunday.
"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 to Facebook Sunday night. "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." The killing makes DeAlto the 21st reported trans killing this year, putting 2021 on track to be the deadliest on record for trans Americans. She is the seventh trans woman of color to be killed in a month.
Within ballroom, DeAlto was a member of the House of Balenciaga. She made her name in Boston, and became a legend for the category of realness. In her subcategory, fem queen realness, trans women competed to pass for cisgender women. DeAlto's specialty was everyday realness. She started walking in 1996, first walking runway and then in 1999 she began walking realness. After her first winning ball walking realness, she stuck with the category. She also built her own devoted personal family, helping to nurture other members of the community. She wrote about that experience last year on Mother's Day.
"I am the mother who raised the children whose rainbow sparkled too brightly and blinded their birth moms," she wrote to Twitter in a thread. "I cherished what they discarded. I took on earthly assignments for moms who'd earned their Heavenly reward. For their babies who still needed raising. I did that. And I'm still doing that. And I'll keep doing that. Because I will never know what seeing my DNA reflected in another's eyes could look like, but I know what gratitude in the eyes of a young person who finally feels seen looks like. And for me, that's enough."
But she was also a vocal activist outside the scene, having begun that work in 1995. For years DeAlto operated a YouTube channel vlogging about her life, speaking out on social justice issues, and also talking about inner-community conversations regarding trans women.
"The mission is all about helping you place yourself on a higher priority in your own life, and essentially living the best life that you possibly can, the most authentic life, the life that is true to you," she said in an introductory video to the channel. Her activism work included speaking at various events like Trans Day of Remembrance rallies and more — she was the emcee and featured speaker at the Berkshires' first Transgender Day of Remembrance event n 201.
“It’s important to be visible,” she told Freedom Massachusetts while she was a student at Berkshire Community College of her work. She's since spoken at the Ryan White Conference on HIV/AIDS, Harvard University, and was a guest lecturer at Columbia University's School of Social work. “It is still vitally important we leverage our privilege to provide educational opportunities for people to learn more. The more we humanize ourselves for those who don’t think they’ve encountered a transgender person, the more we’re able to remove the stigma and fear surrounding the perception of what trans people are. Education is our greatest weapon against ignorance. After having the experience of meeting Jahaira DeAlto, you can no longer say you’ve never met a trans person.” DeAlto graduated from Berkshire Community College in August 2019 with an Associate's Degree in Human Services.
I want to celebrate the person that was Jahaira M DeAlto Balenciaga. https://t.co/bECNzweZMM— LizzieofRatCity (@lizzieofratcity) May 3, 2021
I want to celebrate the person that was Jahaira M DeAlto Balenciaga.
She was a noted trans activist that began her journey at the age of 16 in the early 90s in Boston. She was a noted speaker and organizer of Trans Day of Remembrance.
She later became an advocate and case worker for survivors of intimate partner violence and continued to do what she called “normalizing the trans and experience for cisgender people.” She did this by helping families of trans kids come together as a family to grow.
She has contributed state wide to the growth of Massachusetts creation safety for trans people. Trans women still experience an epidemic of some of the highest homicide rates in this country.
It is unfortunate to have her die in her own home by the hands of somebody else. Details are still fuzzy but I’m realizing having a person in custody doesn’t bring me peace. Just more questions.
I beg of all you, please have these tough conversations. Please realizing that trans folks are still in danger. We need to create a safer world for our trans folks. Trans women deserve to grow old. #TransLivesMatter
Jahira's Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles are https://twitter.com/jahairasmission, https://www.instagram.com/jahairas_mission/ and https://www.facebook.com/jahairasaproblem. She also has a website at https://jahairasmission.wixsite.com/index.