Yesterday, Ciara McElveen, a transgender woman of color, was stabbed to death in New Orleans. According to a witness, McElveen was stabbed by a man in his vehicle, after which the perpetrator then pulled her from the vehicle and slammed her head to the ground, before returning to the car and driving away. Her tragic death comes after Chyna Gibson, a Black transgender woman, was killed following the sound of gunshots on Saturday night.
According to Mic.com, McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. She was only 26 years old.
Syria Sinclaire, a local transgender advocate and friend of McElveen, said of the tragedy, “[t]rans women don't want any special privileges. We should have the right to live our lives open and free and not be taunted and traumatized by the general public if they don't approve.”
While police told The Times-Picayune there was "no reason to believe they were connected," the murders are part of a tragic epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. Already in 2017, six transgender women of color have been killed.
The details of these cases differ, but it is clear that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to systemically deprive the transgender women of color of opportunities like employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities. These barriers make transgender women of color especially vulnerable.
Including McElveen's death, HRC has tracked at least nine murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013. Four took place in New Orleans: besides McElveen and Dupree, trans woman Goddess Diamond was murdered in June of 2016, and Penny Proud was shot to death in February of 2015. None of the New Orleans murders have been solved.
In 2016, advocates tracked at least 22 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded.
HRC extends condolences to McElveen’s family, friends and community.
Update 11/07/2017: This post was updated to reflect details about the suspect.