Advocate and TV personality Ashlee Marie Preston has accomplished a lot in the past year: She became the first transgender person in California to run for the state assembly, and she was named editor-in-chief at the feminist magazine Wear Your Voice. But Preston isn’t celebrating her triumphs on her 34th birthday; instead, she’s honoring the loss of 77 Black transgender women who were murdered before their 35th birthdays.
“Today I turned 34! Sadly the average life expectancy for a Black trans woman in America is 35 years old…I had @cakeandart place the photos of 77 black trans women who were murdered under 35 years old on my cake,” Preston wrote on Instagram.
Her post ended by encouraging the use of the hashtag #ThriveOver35 to spread the word about her campaign, which focuses on helping Black trans men and women envision a future without violence. “Please use this hashtag for every birthday under and over 35 years old to remind our sisters brothers and others that we’re not only surviving we’re THRIVING!
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! 🙏🏾 Today I turned 34! ❤️ Sadly the average life expectancy for a black trans woman in America is 35 years old…I had @cakeandart place the photos of 77 black trans women who were murdered under 35 years old on my cake. I’m rolling out the #ThriveOver35 campaign today which is intended to help black trans women reimagine themselves somewhere other than an open casket. Please use this hashtag for every birthday under and over 35 years old to remind our sisters brothers and others that we’re not only surviving we’re THRIVING!! ✊🏾✨💫 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #Thrive #live #birthday #happybirthday #happybirthdaytome #celebrate #blacktranslivesmatter #blacktranswomen #women #trans #lgbtq #lgbt #masterpiece #queer #facts #statistics #picoftheday #bestoftheday #instagram #instadaily #daily #instagood #media #losangeles #LA #campaign #blacklivesmatter #blm #pride
According to Human Rights Campaign, this year 12 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means. Last year, 28 trans men and women were killed.
She honored the 77 murdered trans women by having their photo on a cake “because wedding cakes get more attention than Black trans women in our community,” she told the Huffington Post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Christian baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Preston added, “I figured if I put the message on a cake maybe it would be easier for society to digest ― no pun intended.”