Bee Love Slater Lived Her Life in Full
This Beyoncé fan practiced love as a verb
This story is part of Know Their Names, a collection of articles illuminating and celebrating the lives of Black Trans women.
Bee Love Slater’s name wasn’t “Love” by accident. To those closest to her, she practiced love as a verb. Bee Love was a name she chose for herself when she turned 18. According to her family, she loved Beyoncé, had a dramatic personality, and was deeply generous to those she loved.
Her energy levels were unmatched. Even after working as a security guard, Bee would make time to provide for her family — giving her siblings rides to school, to doctor’s appointments, to anywhere they needed to go. This was “helpful Bee,” as her family referred to her.
But even in showing up for her family the way she did, Bee wasn’t quite as open with them about her identity. Much of what Bee did to embrace her gender she didn’t share with her family until after her transformation was complete.
“Until she did her transformation, she did not have the confidence,” Shaq Bailey, a friend, told Insider. “But I think once she got that, it was a whole transformation of going from one person who was like ‘I don’t know’ to somebody who is like, ‘This is me and there is nothing anybody can do.’ I felt like there was no stopping her.”
Stepping into who she was also required making decisions about the future, a topic Bee, who lived in Pahokee, Florida, increasingly talked about in September of this year. She spoke often about moving to Atlanta, where she could have a new start around people who were more accepting of her identity as a Trans woman than the people were in the small South Florida town she lived.
In a Facebook exchange with a friend, Bee talked about her desire to move: “Lmaoooo okay we living in the car until we can get a job and a place to stay??”
Bee didn’t get a chance to make the move.
On the night of September 4, her body was found in an abandoned car burned beyond recognition by county police in Clewiston, Florida. Bee was 23 years old. Her death is being investigated as a homicide. In September, police said it was too early to determine if it was a hate crime. In November, they said her case was not being considered as such. The investigation is ongoing.
“I identified with her in heart, as a Trans woman of color. I grew up in the area where she was murdered — these very same people and streets that she frequented. It was like looking into a mirror,” says Gabrielle Lee Hurst, who works as a mental health technician in Fort Myers, Florida. “She was very well-known. I was friends with a few of her buddies and we were all kind of connected, so I know that she was definitely loved and had some backing support from others in the community. Very inspirational, she loved to encourage other LGBTQ community members. Once she went under the knife to have top surgery, that really did numbers [for her confidence].”
This complexity that comes with navigating Bee’s own identity was to be expected. She was only one of two out Transgender people in the area, Gabrielle says. Bee wasn’t an activist but did have a presence in the area. “If she was here, she would be proud and out about who she is. Unapologetic about it,” Gabrielle says. “She was just bold, very brave. She was happy to walk and live in her truth.”
“She was bigger than the very small town that she was in. She wanted to spread her wings and get out of there, build her life bigger than that.”
Bee’s death was even more devastating for the local community because it echoed what happened to Yaz’min “Miss T” Shancez five years prior. Yaz’min was a 31-year-old Transgender woman from the same town whose body had been found in Fort Myers, Florida. Her death has similarities to Bee’s.
“There was definitely a lot of fear, and a mixture of being heartbroken and we were just, kind of, wanting to see some sort of justice,” Gabrielle says. “But we were still afraid. It caused a heightened sense of awareness because it’s the second time that something’s happened this year.”
Bee’s legacy continues on for those in the community as well as her family, who are finding a balance between their own grieving process and being thrust into the public eye.
“She was a human being, more than anything,” Gabrielle says. “She was out and proud, but it came at a cost, and she was afraid that she was in danger. She was bigger than the very small town that she was in. She wanted to spread her wings and get out of there, build her life bigger than that. She wanted to live and experience life, advance in her transition, get her gender marker and name changed. That much I do know.”
Love was her name, and now, it will be remembered as part of Bee’s legacy.