HRC is heartbroken to learn of the death of Dior H Ova, who some reports identiy as Tiffany Harris, a Black transgender woman killed in the Bronx, New York. Her death is believed to be the at least 24th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported -- or misreported. Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year. Unfortunately, HRC has already learned of a 25th death, that of Queasha D Hardy, a Black transgender woman killed in Baton Rouge.
In continued efforts to ensure victims of this epidemic of violence receive dignity in death, we will provide updates to this page as more information is confirmed concerning Ova’s identity.
“Who else? Who else has to die before this country stands up and demands that we put an end to this epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, and especially Black trans women like Dior Ova,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “We are experiencing an epidemic of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people like we have never seen before. Every single one of the at least 25 victims, including Ova, is a human being who had their lives stolen from them because of a mix of toxic masculinity, misogyny, racism and transphobia. As we mourn the loss of yet another Black transgender woman, we must continue to call for it to end.”
According to her Facebook, Ova loved fashion -- listing her career as a personal shopper and posting photos with luxury fashion brands that she loved. She also enjoyed watching TV dramas, such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Sex and the City.” She noted her hometown as Kingston, Jamaica.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Ova has been misgendered and misnamed online following her death. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment too often seen from media, law enforcement and our highest elected officials. Per HRC research, an estimated at least 78% of all tracked deaths included misgendering in media or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.
There are currently very few explicit federal legal protections for transgender or gender-expansive people. Nationally, despite some marginal gains in state and local policies that support and affirm transgender people, recent years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
We must demand better from our community, peers and elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels. 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.
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.