On June 14 the Ithaca, New York community lost one of the founding members of the House of Merlot, a local drag company. Kimbella Rosé Berrios was a “proud trans woman of color," according to a statement released by House of Merlot. As pride month comes to a bitter end here in Ithaca, it is important to remember Kimbella as the powerful woman who brought together a marginalized community with the greater Ithaca area.
It is also important to remember that there are pockets of the LGBTQ community who have found themselves excluded from the mainstream narrative of sexual and gender identity. Kimbella’s death is a reminder that black trans lives matter. 2015 was the deadliest year on record for black trans and gender nonconforming women and it is safe to say that hostility towards this group has not gone away.
Although there is limited information on the case itself — all we know is that an arrest has been made — it cannot be ruled out that her death is related to the ongoing trend of targeting trans women of color. Right now the focus, however, is remembering Kimbella for her achievements and energy within the community.
It is refreshing to see that this situation has not been politicized immediately and that there has been a time of mourning and reflection as well as all around pride to celebrate her and her memory. The House of Merlot is honoring her with a special show next week and there has been an all around sentiment of support within the Ithaca Community to honor her memory while more details of the case are released.
Sometimes it’s best to not get angry right away and to remember those who have been lost.