HRC is horrified and saddened to learn of the brutal murder of Rae’Lynn Thomas, a 28-year-old transgender woman from Columbus, Ohio. Thomas’s family reports witnessing her death at the hands of James Allen Byrd, an ex-boyfriend of Thomas’s mother who lived in the family home.
10TV reports that in her last words, Thomas expressed her love for her mother, brother and sisters. Her aunt told 10TV that Byrd “took a light away from all of us that we can’t get back.”
Thomas was shot, as were over half of the 17 transgender people known to have been murdered in the U.S. this year. She is the second transgender woman believed to have been murdered in Ohio in the past two weeks. 26-year-old Skye Mockabee was found dead in Cleveland on July 30. At least four other transgender Ohio women have been killed since 2013. Ohio’s hate crime law does not cover crimes motivated by gender identity or sexual orientation.
Over 90 percent of transgender people murdered in the United States this year have been people of color. Seventy percent, like Thomas, have been Black. In 2015, HRC worked with the Trans People of Color Coalition to release Addressing Anti-Transgender Violence. The report argues that racism, sexism and anti-transgender stigma together produce “exponentially” higher rates of violence against transgender women of color.
HRC extends sincere condolences to Ms. Thomas’s loved ones.
To learn more about HRC’s work to promote safety and well-being for transgender people, visit http://www.hrc.org/transgender.