HRC and the entire trans community is shocked the learn of the death of Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3 of an apparent gunshot wound. Her death is believed to be at least the 21st known violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. Unfortunately, HRC has already learned of a 22nd death, that of Summer Taylor. Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year.
As we mourn this loss, we are also learning of the tragic deaths of Shaki Peters and Summer Taylor, also killed over the weekend. Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, 10% of all deaths occurred in Florida and another 10% of all deaths have occurred in Texas, the states with the highest counts nationwide.
On Sunday afternoon, Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward created an altar and hosted a gathering to remember Bree. Around 25 people gathered with flowers and candles to remember her, and protestors marched to Pompano Beach City Hall after the gathering while chanting “No Justice, No Peace.” “We want some immediate answers to what’s going on and we want this investigation to be done with full integrity,” Tifanny Burks, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, said according to the Miami Herald. “We want to get connected to her family. We want to get connected with her friends because we don’t want this one altar, this one event to be the end.”
“Over just this past weekend alone, we have learned of the deaths of at least three transgender and gender non-conforming people, two of whom were Black transgender women. This cannot continue,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “A deadly combination of racism, toxic masculinity, misogyny and transphobia is fueling devastating violence. We must come together as a community and demand justice for those who were taken from us. Until trans and gender non-conforming people, especially Black trans women, are free, none of us are free. We cannot rest until all trans and gender non-conforming people can live our lives safely as our full selves.”
Last month, on the fourth anniversary of the tragedy at Pulse, HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida released a new report entitled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” This report notes that over 10,000 hate crimes in the US involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day. The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. Since 2013, almost two-thirds of known cases of fatal violence against transgender people have involved a gun, a number that rises to over 7 in 10 in cases of fatal violence against Black trans women. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019.
In November 2019, ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, HRC Foundation released “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2019,” a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence -- a toxic mix of transphobia, racism and misogyny. Sadly, 2019 saw at least 27 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported -- or misreported.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Florida are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Additionally, Florida does not include gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Nationally, despite some recent gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels because it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information regarding this case to contact Det. Louis Bonhomme at 954-321-4377. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477) or online at browardcrimestoppers.org.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- must cease.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.