HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nina Pop, a 28-year-old transgender woman killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. Her death is believed to be the at least tenth violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S., and the fifth known violent death in the past month -- all transgender women of color.
“For the past four weeks, we have seen the deaths of five transgender women of color in this country. We are seeing an epidemic of violence that can no longer be ignored. Transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially trans women of color, risk our lives by living as our true selves -- and we are being violently killed for doing so,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “We must be outraged by this news and we must channel that outrage into action immediately. These crimes must be reported, investigated and prosecuted. These lives must be mourned, honored and fought for. What we are doing is not enough. HRC mourns alongside all those who know and loved Nina, and we will continue our tireless fight to ensure a future where living one’s truth can never become a death sentence.”
On her Facebook last week, Nina talked about her home and family, sharing a throwback photo of her and her siblings -- a family left mourning their precious sister who did not deserve to die. Pop’s family, friends and community are mourning her loss, sharing on Facebook that “everyone loved” her.
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 26 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.
There are currently very few explicit federal legal protections for transgender or gender-expansive people. At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Missouri are not explicitly protected in employment, housing or in public spaces. They are covered under the state’s hate crimes legislation. 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 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.
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.