Stacey Lee, best known as Mother Stacey Blahnik, was a light that shined in the ballroom community and outside it. Stacey was a beacon of hope, and will always be remembered by many young trans women of color in Philadelphia. It has been eight years since the murder of Stacey Blahnik, and there still has been no arrest for this brutal hate crime. However, when you speak to those who were the closest to Stacey, they say they still see and feel her presence around them.
“I lost everything. I lost a best friend — a lover,” said Stacey’s paramour, Malik Moorer. Friends of Stacey admit to accusing or thinking Moorer was a suspect at some point during the criminal investigation. All of those friends now say they regret how they treated Malik during that time, and that their anger was misdirected. Randy Blahnik, Stacey’s house member, said: “I know it was the reason why Malik moved out of Philadelphia. Malik was deeply in love with Stacey, and we were wrong for accusing him of doing something like that to her. I want to tell Malik I’m sorry.”
It has been nearly a decade since the murder of Stacey. Her friends are often asked what LGBTQ advocates in Philadelphia could do to bring more attention to this cold case. “No one used their political clout or offered an award,” said Chyna White, Stacey’s closest friend. Ms. White believes these incentives would help in solving the case and bring forth more information. A woman such as White of the trans experience understands firsthand how trans women of color have been disproportionally victims of these types of crimes — and also how the police department does not put in the time or effort into solving them.
Philadelphia lost a light when Stacey Blahnik was murdered that day, and since her death, there have been an estimated 126 trans-related murders in the United States. As a cis-gender person, I often forget about the “T” in LGBTQ, but through the work of others such as Deja Alvarez and Eran Emani, I have learned that we must all speak up. For the failure to raise your voice and take action, we all become acquiescent in the violence committed against a trans person in the United States.
Antar Bush is a public-health advocate, professor at West Chester University and executive producer of OUTPour LGBTQ. He is committed to advocating for health equity in all communities. Follow him on Instagram @antarbushmswmph.