Jazz’lean Castro, a transgender woman of color, died suddenly Saturday, May 22. In recent years, she had called both New York City and Charlotte home.
Word via social media and Castro’s family confirmed she died Saturday in New York. Castro’s cousin Jasmin Robinson also said that Castro was ill while staying with her most recently.
Her cousin was ready to receive and support her after the hospital discharge; that unfortunately never happened. Days before her death, she was discharged to a shelter. The shelter disagreed with the hospital’s decision and she was readmitted to the hospital, only to pass away the following day.
The hospital did not inform Robinson, Castro’s medical proxy, about her cousin’s demise. When Robsinson contacted the hospital, after seeing social media reports about Castro’s death, the hospital took waited days to verify she had died.
Robinson remembers her cousin‘s love of spending holidays together. “She had an amazing heart, she always wanted to help [and] she was always thinking about the family.”
Housing insecurity and lack of adequate medical support played a major role in Castro’s death. A National LGBTQ Task Force report found that 41 percent of Black respondents have faced housing insecurity in their life.
Both of Castro’s parents died before she turned two. She survived housing insecurity in her earlier years and was emancipated at age 16. Afterwards, she worked closely with community organizations to find the support she needed.
She was a regular volunteer member with RAIN, a Charlotte-based HIV health management and assistance organization. Jaysem Foreman-McMaster knew her during his time at RAIN and was good friends with her for the past decade, offering support to Castro and others to get trans-specific housing and health resources.
Foreman-McMaster helped Castro get her first home in North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, the bond between the two was so strong Foreman-McMaster would come to call Castro daughter.
“The system we have in place right now doesn’t value people of color the same way,” says Foreman-McMaster. “They don’t want to listen to people who need help and help the people the way they need help. Not the way they decide in a boardroom [to help them].”
Ash Williams, a friend and fellow organizer who had previously worked with Castro, recalled how pleased he was to learn that his mutual aid work had inspired Castro to share funds and support with a young trans person she met. Williams explained that on many occasions, “when trans folks show up for each other, we are quite literally saving [each other’s] lives.”
Castro leaves behind a sister, cousins, nieces and nephews and many other family and friends, as well as a generous heart shaped hole in the LGBTQ+ community in North Carolina and New York. She was a daughter, a niece, a giver, a sister, an aunt and a community member with a big heart.
The Charlotte Community is hosting a vigil on June 12. Final expense funds can be donated via CashApp $MrsJazz32.
Castro’s funeral will be held in New York City at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street.
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