Post submitted by former HRC Digital Media Manager Helen Parshall
Update: A suspect was arrested in July, according to media reports.
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Zoe Spears, a Black transgender woman killed in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on June 13.
Spears, 23, was found lying in the street with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, just outside Washington, D.C., and later pronounced dead, according to local reports. Prince George’s County’s homicide department is leading the investigation into her death.
While officials have not yet released her name, transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, identified Spears as the victim. The organization is Washington, D.C.’s only bilingual, multicultural LGBTQ community center providing life-saving and affirming services and support to many of the most vulnerable members of the area’s LGBTQ community.
“She was my daughter -- very bright and very full of life,” Corado told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
In March, Ashanti Carmon, who was also a Black trans woman, was killed in the same area of Fairmount Heights. TransGriot’s Monica Roberts reported that Carmon was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene. Earline Budd, a long time D.C. resident and staff member at HIPS, a community health and advocacy organization, shared with reporters that other transgender people have been assaulted and attacked at this same place in the past.
“It hurts,” Corado said in an emotional Facebook video during which she spoke about Spears’ death . “I want to make sure that people see what happens when our people are gone. I want you to see that this is real consequences, that when these people get killed...they had somebody that loved them.”
“My Zoe had a lot of people who loved her, and I was the main one,” Corado continued. “I was her number one fan. I love her so much.”
Tragically, Spears’ death is the tenth 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 the U.S.
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.
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 Casa Ruby’s work to support the transgender community in the Washington, D.C. area, visit casaruby.org. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.