Trans man shot to death in Michigan by trans girlfriend resulting in transphobic media coverage

Trans man shot to death in Michigan by trans girlfriend resulting in transphobic media coverage
Ray Muscat
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*warning story contains topics, including suicide, violence and transphobia, that some readers may find upsetting*

Ray Muscat, a 26-year-old trans man, was shot to death in Oakland County, Michigan, making him at least the 13th trans or gender non-conforming person to have been murdered this year in the USA. 

 

Police report that Ruby Taverner, 22, shot and killed both her boyfriend of two years and her brother on Sunday (8 May) in Independence Township, a community about 34 miles northwest of Detroit.

 

Police had been searching for Taverner after the bodies of her boyfriend Ray Muscat, 26, and her brother Bishop Taverner, 25, were found in an apartment.

 

A 911 call from a neighbour in the early hours of the morning reported gunshot sounds from the apartment building and police who were called to the scene discovered the bodies of Muscat and Bishop, both fatally shot.

 

Tavener was named as a suspect after her car and cell phone were both found at the scene, where she was believed to have fled on foot.

Ruby Taverner (via Oakland County Sheriff’s Office)

The sheriff’s office had alerted people to not approach Taverner if they came across her, warning she was believed to be armed and dangerous.

More than two dozen deputies, supported by drones and K-9 units, searched for Taverner on Sunday.

 

But on Monday morning (10 May), Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said she had been found in a woods not far from the apartment where the shootings took place, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to local news station WXYZ.

“This tragic situation has now been brought to a close, and our investigators will now pivot to see if we can answer the question on everyone’s mind — why?”

Ray Muscat

Muscat was described as “a kind soul who had a glowing smile that was contagious to their day”, in an obituary but is deadnamed and misgendered throughout.

 

The reasons behind the killings are not known but the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reported that a great deal of the media coverage has been transphobic in content. 

 

“Sadly, the media is whipped into a frenzy over the fact that a trans woman murdered her trans male boyfriend (and her own brother) then died by suicide”, the report said.

“The media coverage focuses on her, the murderer, and that is something often true in similar scenarios involving cisgender heterosexual couples. What’s worse is that people are using the trans identities of both one victim and the perpetrator as fodder for cruel jokes that diminish the tragedy and only serve to keep other folks from asking for help.”

 

Taverner allegedly had three weapons registered to her: two 9mm handguns and one .38 caliber handgun. A Glock 43X handgun, which she purchased within the past week, was found near her body.

 

While right-wing media and transphobic social media users seek to make this tragic case about queer or transgender mental health, most of those same outlets fail to acknowledge that more than 15,000 people have died due to gun violence so far in 2022 (figure according to the Gun Violence Archive, a database that collects information about shootings across the country).

About 6,700 of those deaths were due to homicide, murder, unintentional or defensive gun use while about 8,500 deaths were due to suicide.

 

Authorities report conducting a welfare check on the couple’s apartment a month earlier but did not release a suspected motive in the killings. 

Ray is the 13th transgender or gender non-conforming person reported as a victim of fatal violence in 2022, although this figure is likely to be significantly higher as many deaths often go unreported or misreported due to deadnaming. 

 

Unsurprisingly, some social media users flocked to regurgitate more transphobic rhetoric online (just a handful of examples below).

 

If you are a trans person living with intimate partner violence, please reach out to the Trans Lifeline US (877) 565-8860 and Canada (877) 330-6366 or reach out to your local domestic violence organization. In the UK contact 0800 020 9653 or info@lgbtplus.org.uk.

 

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