Transgender woman shot to death in her Atlanta apartment

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Some three-dozen people gathered outside an apartment in west Atlanta on Friday to celebrate the life of Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black transgender woman who was murdered two weeks earlier. 

Bankz, a former foster child who had long struggled with living on the streets, moved into the apartment on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard just a few weeks before she was killed on Jan. 17. She was shot in the head by a man inside her apartment who then killed himself in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Atlanta Police Department. 

Bankz, 30, was at least the sixth trans or gender non-conforming person to be killed or die under questionable circumstances in Georgia since March.

The bodies of Bankz and her suspected killer, Moses Allen, were discovered in the apartment by Bankz’s roommate, a longtime friend who often lived on the streets with her. Her death is part of an ongoing investigation but will likely remain a murder-suicide, according to an Atlanta police spokesperson. 

“[Investigators] are not looking for any outstanding people of interest in this case. This was not random and is not a threat to the public,” said TaSheena Brown, a senior police officer and agency spokesperson.

On Friday, friends gathered in front of the apartment complex where Bankz was killed for a vigil organized by the Trans Housing Coalition. Watch video from the event.

The coalition helped place Bankz there with her roommate in December, according to Jesse Pratt López, the coalition’s founder and co-director. She was starting to get her life on firm footing before she was killed, she said.

“Although Muffin didn’t know her blood family and she was a child of the foster system, y’all are her family right here. She had chosen family. And Muffin was just blossoming into herself,” López said during Friday’s vigil.

“Muffin hadn’t been in the apartment for not even a month and we were helping her get a job. We actually had the job interview scheduled for her the day after she died,” she added.

Friends nicknamed Bankz as Muffin for her love of blueberry muffins.

“She would walk into the homeless shelter for those nasty blueberry muffins. Apparently, she’s the only person in the world that likes those muffins,” López said.

Angel Karmarain described Bankz as “sweet and kind.” Bankz would ask for help with her makeup. Friends said she hoped to one day compete on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“She used to call me every day and say, ‘Could you do my makeup?’ And I’m like yes, yes, yes. I do it because I was so drawn into her face. And I say this to say that I wish she will call my phone right now like honestly to just say, ‘Will you do my mug?’ But she’s not here. I just love her and I will miss you,” Karmarain said.

Friends held a vigil for Bianca “Muffin” Bankz on Jan. 29 outside her apartment on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard in Atlanta.

 ‘I’m praying for Muffin’

Mahogany Miller enjoyed “kiki and cackling” with Bankz at her apartment. She called her murder “tragic.”

“I’m pretty sure Muffin would be surprised this many people showed up because she was a quiet person and she sometimes she didn’t feel like a lot of people liked her. And you know what I told her? My motto was fuck them, girl,” Miller said.

“I’m praying for Muffin and wherever her real family is,” she added.

Lana Brooks said Bankz made a quick and lasting impression on her. She meet Bankz a few months ago.

“Even though that is a brief time, in that short amount of time you were able to see her light shine. That’s all you needed from Muffin. You didn’t need much more than that,” Brooks said.

The vigil on Friday also served as a rallying cry against the violence that Black trans women face. 

“Trans lives are sacred. We’re not a fetish and we’re not disposable. We are culture creators, fashion designers. We are makeup artists. We’re each other’s mothers and sisters. We’re everything we want to be and nothing other people try to define us as. We keep each other safe. The epidemic of violence against trans women, especially Black and Brown trans women, must end,” López said.

Bankz is among at least six transgender and non-conforming people who died in Georgia since March. 

Bonaire “Bonnie” Black, 19, was found dead on Dec. 31 in a Midtown parking garage. Kimberely Patricia Cope, 40, was found dead in a restaurant parking lot a few hundred feet from her apartment in Athens on Dec. 27. Felycya Harris, 33, was shot to death in an Augusta park in October. KaKedius “Rebel” Reid, 31, died of a possible drug overdose on Aug. 29, according to the National Black Justice Coalition. Scottlyn Kelly Devore, 51, was choked to death and dumped in a wooded area near Augusta in March. 

Bankz, Black, Cope and Harris are black trans women. Devore is gender non-conforming and white. Reid is a black trans man.

At least 44 trans or non-conforming people died by violence in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Some 51 trans and non-conforming people were “lost to violence and hate” last year, according to the National Black Justice Coalition.

“Now we’ve lost Muffin. Muffin’s life mattered. And although the man who killed her didn’t think so, Black trans lives matter – although the majority of the world doesn’t think so. And not just the ones who pass, the ones who are stray, the ones who are sex workers, not just the ones who aren’t HIV positive – Black trans woman matter period,” López said.

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