Ashlee Marie Preston / Instagram
Britni Danielle
Jun, 14, 2018

Violence against trans men and women has been on the rise, and trans women of color face particularly dire challenges. So far, five Black trans women have been killed in 2018, alarming LGBTQ groups that advocate for the community.

In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign concluded “fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”

Even worse, the life expectancy for Black trans women is just 35-years-old. So when transgender advocate and television personality, Ashlee Marie Preston celebrated her 34th birthday, she decided to honor those who didn’t make it to 35.

“Today I turned 34! Sadly the average life expectancy for a Black trans woman in America is 35 years old...I had @cakeandart place the photos of 77 black trans women who were murdered under 35 years old on my cake,” Preston wrote on Instagram.

In addition to honoring the slain women, Preston told her followers she was kicking off a new campaign to help Black trans men and women visualize a future that doesn’t end in violence.

“I’m rolling out the #ThriveOver35 campaign today which is intended to help Black trans women reimagine themselves somewhere other than an open casket. Please use this hashtag for every birthday under and over 35 years old to remind our sisters brothers and others that we’re not only surviving we’re THRIVING!”

Preston told the Huffington Post she chose the unconventional way to honor murdered trans women “because wedding cakes get more attention than Black trans women in our community.”

She added, “I figured if I put the message on a cake maybe it would be easier for society to digest ― no pun intended.”