Celebrating the Life of Miia Love Parker, a bright light in every room she entered

by Meghan Olson

Miia Love Parker, age 25, was a bright light in the lives of her friends, and a fan of the critically acclaimed series ‘Pose.’ On April 1st, Miia, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pennslyvania. She was transported to the hospital by a friend where she died from her injuries. Miia Love Parker’s death is at least the 10th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

In early April, friends organized a vigil to celebrate her life and the funeral took place on April 8.

Friends remember Miia Love Parker as a brilliant light that brought joy into every room she entered. That light was extinguished far too soon. Her death is the second known in the state of Pennsylvania just this year and one of too many that have happened around the country. We must honor her light by continuing the fight for justice and protection of our community.”

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

Local police have not yet released information about a motive, but have identified a suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or contact Chester Police at 610-447-8424.

More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a 2020 report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “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. According to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-fourths of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Miia Love Parker was misgendered in some media and police reports with the mention of her legal name. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. 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 Pennslyvania are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Pennsylvania does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 270 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 110 of which directly target transgender people.

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 CountMeIn 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.

Can we count you in?

The more people who show they care, including allies and trans and non-binary people who speak up for the most marginalized in our community, the more hearts and minds we will change.