Amber Minor, Black Transgender Woman, Tragically Killed near Kansas City on Christmas Eve

by Laurel Powell

Amber Minor, a 40-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Raytown, Missouri - a suburb of Kansas City - early on December 24th, 2023. Amber’s death is at least the 32nd violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. The Human Rights Campaign is deeply saddened to report on Amber’s death.

In an interview with the Kansas City Star on Sunday, January 6th, Amber was described by those close to her as a “warrior,” with a strong will and spirit, noting that her personality could “shed light” on otherwise dark situations. Amber was also a previous survivor of violence, recovering from gunshot wounds and having been hit by a car.

It’s clear from all we know that Amber left a positive mark on the lives of the people she knew and held dear. Each time a member of our community is taken from us, it leaves a mark that never really heals. Our hearts go out to Amber’s friends and family as we mark another tragic milestone.”

Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative

The Advocate, an LGBTQ+ publication, reported that an investigation into Amber’s death is ongoing & encourages individuals who may have information to call 816-474-8477.

Amber is at least the 25th trans or gender non-conforming person killed with a gun in 2023, with firearms involved in over three-quarters of incidents of fatal violence in that year. More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 cases, according to a 2022 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation Support Fund, “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI recorded a record-high number of hate crimes related to gender identity, including a 33% jump in hate crimes on the basis of gender identity from the year before.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Amber was misgendered in some media and police reports. Amber, unfortunately, is not alone. Since HRC began tracking fatal violence against the trans community in 2013, two-thirds of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement–including half of all victims identified in 2023. Anti-transgender stigma is further exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Missouri are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Missouri does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected characteristics in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. In June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, as a result of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses that year, over 80 of which were signed into law—more than in any other year.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.

More resources:

  • Learn more about the fatal violence cases that HRC is tracking where details are unclear. You may find a list of these cases here.

  • Watch this PSA campaign elevating stories of trans joy and love.

  • Join HRC's Count Me In campaign to take action for transgender and non-binary people.

  • Read these guidelines and this FAQ for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.

  • Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.