The Human Rights Campaign is horrified to learn of the death of Queasha D Hardy, 22, yet another Black transgender woman. Hardy was fatally shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 27. Her death is believed to be the at least 25th 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.
“For at least the 25th time this year, we have lost a beloved member of the transgender and gender non-conforming community,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “Words cannot describe the devastation felt by every person affected by this epidemic of violence. The transgender and gender non-conforming community and our loved ones are all screaming for justice and an end to this violence. We are living in an epidemic of widespread violence. In Black trans communities, we all are connected in some way to those who've been killed. Baton Rouge lost a beloved and respected member of the community. Queasha D Hardy was so beloved -- and she will be so missed.”
Hardy, a hairstylist, was extremely loved by her community. On Facebook, many, many loved ones of Hardy are sharing memories of their time together. One person posted a video of Hardy dancing spontaneously with friends. Another friend remembered Hardy doing her hair and the joy she felt at “looking fly for [her] baby shower.” Others describe her as loyal, loving, “always smiling,” “the life of all parties” and “truly one of a kind.”
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Hardy has been misgendered and misnamed in the media 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.
In June, 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 titled “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 U.S. 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, three-fourths of homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019.
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 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.