HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Summer Taylor, a white non-binary person killed after a car drove into a crowd of protestors in Seattle, Washington, on July 4. Taylor was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Their death is believed to be the at least 22nd violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. In addition to Taylor, two Black trans women -- Shaki Peters and Bree Black -- were killed over the weekend. Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year.
Another non-binary protestor, Diaz Love, was also hit alongside Taylor and remains in serious condition in a Seattle hospital. The driver of the car has been booked in King County Jail while he is investigated for felony vehicular assault.
Taylor worked full time at Urban Animal veterinary hospital. After Taylor’s death, friends, coworkers and activists flooded their social media with tributes. One friend described Taylor as “a blinding light in an otherwise dark world.” A coworker noted that Taylor had been a frequent presence at the protests, saying, “Summer has been there since Day One standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals. Summer talked to me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history.”
“The Human Rights Campaign mourns the loss of Summer Taylor, who died while putting their life on the line to demand justice,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “In their final moments, Taylor was living their values and marching in solidarity with Black lives. We must honor Summer Taylor’s life and sacrifice by continuing the fight for justice for Black people and for all marginalized communities including Black transgender women.”
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Taylor has been misgendered online following their 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 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 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.
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.