Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall
Update: A suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon on June 11, according to reports.
HRC is deeply saddened by the news of the death of Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6.
Robeson County sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of gunfire and found Scurlock’s body in a field, according to The Advocate. Few details are public about the crime, but police told a local news outlet they have “great leads” in their investigation and are “working diligently to bring closure to a grieving family.”
“RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
Unfortunately, police and multiple media outlets continue to misgender and misname Scurlock -- even after being made aware of her transgender identity. Government agencies, media and others denying someone’s identity is unfortunately emblematic of the callous and disrespectful treatment that transgender individuals too often face in our society. Misgender of transgender victims of violence can also embolden anti-trans violence by reinforcing the prejudice at the heart of the attacks.
We must all work to build a society that fully affirms and embraces the diverse spectrum of all gender identities, especially in light of the alarming violence that disproportionately impacts this community, especially transgender women of color. In the pursuit of accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender and gender expansive people.
Tragically, Scurlock’s death is the ninth known case of deadly violence against the transgender community in 2019, all of whom were Black transgender women. Last year, advocates tracked the deaths of at least 26 transgender people.
In November, ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, HRC Foundation released "A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018," a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence. Of the more than 130 known victims of anti-transgender violence from 2013 to present, approximately two-thirds of those killed were victims of gun violence.
It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that 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.
To learn more about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.