Sister of slain trans woman Riah Milton speaks out against ‘deadnaming’

Sister of murder victim speaks out as suspects get ready to go to court
Updated: Jun. 17, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A week after the shooting death of Riah Milton, the Tri-State transgender woman has become a national symbol for transgender rights and equality.

“It has been amazing watching so many people uplift my sister,” Ariel Mary Ann said. “To see so many people demand justice for Riah, and people I don’t know reaching out to me, it’s amazing.”

Milton, 25, was shot to death on June 9 when three suspects lured her to Liberty Township to steal her car and money, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

A fight ensued during the robbery, and Milton was shot twice, the sheriff’s office says. In the aftermath, the suspects fled with Milton’s car, leaving her body behind in the 6000 block of Spruce Creek Drive near Liberty Park.

It was found around 5:30 a.m. the following day.

Kaleb Tooson, 19, was arrested the night of the shooting and indicted for Milton’s murder the following Wednesday, June 17 after he confessed to police about what took place.

A 14-year-old girl was also arrested the night of the shooting, and a 25-year-old Cincinnati man, Tyree Cross, remains at large.

Ariel remains dubious about the fact pattern.

“I don’t know much about what happened,” she said, “But I do know there is much more to this story.”

She says what upsets her most is people not calling her sister by the name she preferred.

Police initially identified her as Khalic Rova-Shaquille Milton, using the name on her driver’s license.

The act, known as “deadnaming,” occurs when someone, intentionally or not, refers to a transgender person by the name they used before they transitioned.

“It cost nothing to call me Ariel,” she said. “To use ‘she, her’ pronouns. To call her Riah. To say that she was my sister. It cost you nothing.”

“You have zero excuses as to why you cannot call people the names they want to be called by.”

A GoFundMe set up by Ariel has raised nearly $45,000. Ariel says she plans to donate part of that money to organizations that help foster children because Riah was in foster care.

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