Cherry Bush was 48 years old, She was homeless, living in Sylmar a suburban neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley and is the northernmost neighborhood within the City of Los Angeles. On July 5, a 29-year-old man shot her after making disparaging comments based on her perceived gender identity (and sexual orientation.) She died the next day in the hospital.
The suspected shooter has been arrested and charged with one count each of murder and attempted murder, with a hate crime allegation, according to LA County District Attorney. The hate crime charges came almost two weeks after the shooting. Original media reporting repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered Cherry, describing her repeatedly as a ‘man in a dress” even while describing the hate crime charges.
We do not know many details about Cherry’s life right now. Her brother, Bob Bush, shared on Instagram:
“To my oldest friend, [sibling], and the ultimate anti-hero. I love you [ ] and I miss you.”
Cherry has a backstory. Photos shared by her brother on Instagram hint at a childhood with typical experiences, toys, activities, adventures, and family moments. Finding out why she was homeless may or may not be part of the narrative for us, but acknowledging that she was this whole person beyond one or two identifiers is very important. I saw one of her toys was something I also had in my own young life and those moments of connection are important to help us continue to resist the rhetoric that silences all of us.
I’m curious what ‘the ultimate anti-hero’ means.
Cherry’s status as a homeless person does not make her life less valuable or reduce the tragedy of her death. Her vulnerability as a person who had no housing is part of the larger narrative of how our society has left our trans neighbors unprotected on multiple fronts — their identities, their financial security, their housing, and more. Cherry was literally having a conversation when she was shot down simply because she existed. She did nothing to warrant such callous violence. Some reports suggest her murderer was targeting a bystander and just happened to react to her gender expression. A side serving of transphobic laced murder?