Post submitted by Jay Brown, former HRC Communications Director 

Following initial reports misgendering the victim, homicide detectives reported the murder today of Zella Ziona, a 21-year-old transgender woman murdered Oct. 15 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Just a week after the killing of 22-year-old Keisha Jenkins, a transgender woman in Philadelphia, Ziona’s death marks the 21st known homicide of a transgender person in 2015. All but two victims, including Ziona, were Black or Latina and nearly all identified as women. In 2014, at least 13 transgender women were murdered in the United States.

Earlier this month, HRC President Chad Griffin joined Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, in urging action from policymakers and advocates to help stem what has become a nationwide epidemic of anti-transgender violence.   

“Even in a moment of unprecedented visibility for transgender people, their right to simply live authentically is threatened daily by violence, with countless unreported or unseen cases falling behind scattered headlines,” wrote Griffin and Shepard.

Friends, family and advocates worked with the Montgomery County Police Department to ensure Ziona was properly identified. In initial reports, authorities stated they believed Ziona was targeted.

Detectives are urging anybody with information to contact the Major Crimes Division at 240.773.5070. There is a reward of up to $10,000 being offered for information leading to an arrest.

For more information on anti-transgender violence, visit

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