HRC mourns the tragic death of Alphonza Watson, a 38-year-old transgender Baltimore woman, who died yesterday morning after being shot in the stomach.
According to The Washington Post, witnesses told police they heard cries for help and gunshots, and saw two men speed away from the scene in a car. Suspects have not been identified, but police say they are canvassing the neighborhood.
Watson’s mother said her daughter had lived in Baltimore for over a decade, The Baltimore Sun reported. She described Watson as “the sunshine of our family,” a “caring, passionate” person who loved cooking and gardening.
ABC2 News interviewed members of Baltimore’s transgender community, who were rattled by the attack. Key’Ayshia Tucker, who works at Baltimore’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, said the death brought her to tears—and explained that barriers to jobs and education put the trans women she works with at risk for violence.
Since 2014, at least six other transgender people, all Black women, have been killed in Maryland. Four of those victims were murdered in Baltimore. Most recently, in September of 2016, Southwest Baltimore resident Crystal Edmonds was found on a sidewalk with a gunshot wound, and later died at a hospital. The investigation into Edmonds’ death remains open. In June of 2014, Mia Henderson—the sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock—was stabbed to death in West Baltimore; a 43-year-old man was tried and acquitted for her murder.
Nationwide, Watson is at least the eighth transgender person killed this year. Seven victims have been Black women; the eighth was an Oglala Lakota woman, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow. These deaths continue a disturbing pattern: among known murders of transgender people in the U.S. since 2013, more than three in four victims have been Black, and over 90 percent have been people of color. A Matter of Life and Death, published in November by HRC and the Trans People of Color Coalition, explains how racism, sexism and transphobia combine to put transgender women of color at disproportionate risk for violence and homicide.
HRC extends sincere condolences to Ms. Watson’s friends and family.
To learn more about HRC’s transgender justice work, including efforts to end violence against transgender people, click here.