by Viktor Veltstra, LAMMP Admin and TDTF Board member
2022 has been a very busy year for the Trans Doe Task Force, filled with a lot of changes, challenges, and an incredible amount of work.
Firstly, I’d like to take the time to reintroduce myself, as this past year I have come out as Trans and also started transitioning. I’ve changed my name to Viktor, and am now using He/They pronouns. I’m happy to be finally openly moving towards presenting in ways that feel more comfortable to me and appreciate the positive reception I’ve received from the Missing and Unidentified persons community as well as my chosen family, especially as the reception from my family of origin has been largely much less positive.
Lee and Anthony have been doing a lot of continuing education as well as teaching, and in 2022 Anthony earned his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of New England. His dissertation, entitled “Needs-Based Standards of Practice for The Use Of Forensic Genetic Genealogy In Investigations Of Violence Toward Marginalized Victims,” was successfully defended in October. It will be published in the near future, and we will let you know where you can read it when it is available. Congratulations, Dr. Redgrave!
This past year was unfortunately also a year where we were attacked by transphobic press outlets who grossly mischaracterized our work. This resulted in harassment and threats to our organization and the Trans board members specifically, causing a great deal of personal trauma to our extremely small working team. This resulted in us losing allies, colleagues, and fearing for our own personal safety as well as a massive increase in the amount of stress to our already very heavy, stressful work. We are reminded in graphic ways through our work that violence can and does happen to people exactly like us on a daily basis, and it is already a lot to bear without threats being aimed at us for doing the work. We have made a decision to dissolve TDTF Pro Allies, at least in its current form, and to make a greater commitment towards involving Trans scientists, genealogists, and activists as well as going forward with an all-Trans Board of Directors.
Despite all of these challenges, we’ve accomplished SO much this year! Your donations are extremely appreciated and really help our cases! In 2022, your donations, as well as some generous grants we received helped us do the following:
This year, the LAMMP database has added 183 unidentified persons cases on which we’ve begun research, which brings the number of unidentified persons cases in our database up to 378 cases. We’ve also been tracking 85 murders of LGBTQ+ people, and helped find 81 Trans cases for inclusion in the TDoR list.
We’ve identified an additional 546 new missing LGBTQ+ persons cases and tracked and assisted with 689 total LGBTQ+ missing persons cases in 2022. Happily, many of these have been positively resolved with the missing person being found alive and safe!
In 2022 we helped with the identification and in locating the next of kin for Chyina Diaz, who was a Trans woman from New York City.
We funded the lab process to help identify an unidentified person from Rhode Island, which was recently confirmed. As this identification has not been released by the department, we will also not be releasing details about their case at this time. However, we would like to extend our thanks to everyone who worked on this case, as well as our condolences to their family and friends.
We have had two other DNA cases (Harris County Doe and Owensboro Doe) in the lab for the better part of the past year, and we have made the decision to send those samples to a different lab who may have better success at getting us sufficient data so that we can perform forensic genetic genealogy and hopefully reach identifications for these individuals. We would like to thank their departments for their continued trust in us and patience with the sometimes tedious process of DNA sequencing. TDTF is fully funding these cases through grants and your donations as well.
We are incredibly honored to be able to serve our community by making sure our community members’ cases aren’t deprioritized, improving existing systems, spreading awareness of our cases and the specific issues our cases face, and by searching ceaselessly for names for the unidentified, and for those who are missing. For the family and friends of those who are still missing, we send our sincerest love and support and our promise to continue searching until your loved one is found.
If you know of any cases that we should be aware of, or if you need assistance with someone you know who is missing, please submit them on our website or email. If you know anyone working in law enforcement, medical examiners’ offices, anthropologists, or anyone who may have custody of Doe cases, please make sure they know that we are here to assist if any of those cases might be someone from the LGBTQ+ community.
Thank you for your support as we continue to do this work! We wish you a safe and healthy 2023.