OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Three of the Ghost Ship fire victims have been identified as beloved members of the Bay Area’s trans community.
Family members say they saw the ghost ship as a safe space to be their authentic selves.
The Oakland police department says they recognize the sensitivity that’s needed when working with the transgender community. They even have a transgender liaison.
KPIX 5 spoke with one lieutenant who makes it her priority to educate her officers so they can work with whomever in the city of Oakland in a respectful way.
Three of the victims of Friday night’s warehouse fire – Cash Askew, Em Bohlka and Feral Pines – identified as trans women.
The Ghost Ship warehouse was known to be an open and safe space for them to be themselves.
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Oakland Police Lieutenant Lisa Ausmus says it’s critical to inform her officers of the most respectful way to interact with the trans community.
“They understand and then once they go into a situation or into a scene or whatever they have to deal with, they speak and talk educated with an understanding and compassion with the community and the different community members they’re going to be dealing with,” explained Ausmus.
All three women are being honored as part of this memorial set up a block away from where they perished.
Feral Pines’ father told website Out.com that his daughter was a “gentle soul who never had a bad word to say about anyone.”
Cash Askew was a member of the dream-pop band Them Are Us Too. Her label, Dais Records, said she will be remembered as “one of the most talented and loving people they’ll ever know.”
And Em Bohlkas father honored her on Instagram with thoughtful, poignant words that sent a message regarding trans safety.
He wrote, in part, “Many of you will remember her as Matt. But recently, she was transitioning to become a beautiful, happy woman. She took the name Em. I just wish with all my heart that she had more time to live her life as she truly wanted. My heart goes out to the entire trans community who feel as if they must gather in unsafe buildings to experience their community and celebrate their identity.”
Ausmus explained that when names of the victims are initially made public, law enforcement agencies are required to provide the legal given name. But to the Oakland Police Department, it’s important to also release the victims’ chosen names as soon as they learn them.
“Out of respect for their community and understanding and the compassion of their community that we deal with every day, said Ausmus. Family members may know them as one person, and their community and their friends may recognize them as this other person as well.”
Tuesday night at 440 Grand Avenue in Oakland, Spectrum Queer Media will provide what they’re calling a sanctuary to celebrate the lives of the fire victims. It will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.