Honoring Ashia Davis, 34-Year-Old Black Trans Woman Killed in Detroit

by Jared Todd

Ashia, also spelled Asia, Davis was a Black transgender woman from Detroit who was full of joy, devoted to her faith, and a loving dog owner to a Yorkie named Clyde. On the second day of Pride Month, at just 34 years old, Ashia was found dead in a Highland Park hotel room on June 2nd. Ashia’s death is at least the 12th 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.

Ashia’s good friend, Allona Anderson, spoke to FOX2 News: "We’ve (known) each other since we were (children), since we were younger," said Anderson who is also transgender. "And we loved each other that was a good friend of mine."

Ashia Davis was a beautiful human being who deserves at a minimum to be alive today, sharing her cheerful spirit with us. During Pride Month and every other month, we’re faced with yet another tragic reminder that as Black trans women, we are under attack in this country. Anti-trans rhetoric and stigma perpetuate this violence. It’s beyond unacceptable that not nearly enough of those in power have spoken out against this inhumanity. We continue to call for justice – for Ashia and for all those we’ve lost without sufficient answers.”

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

A teenager has been arrested and charged with her murder, which has now officially been confirmed to be from a gun shot. Her killer, Carlos Lamar Scotland, was 17 at the time of Aisha's murder, but is now 18, and will be tried as an adult.

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 2017-2022 Transgender Homicide Tracker, the vast majority of three-fourths of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, with Black transgender women accounting for 73% of all transgender gun homicide victims. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Michigan are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Michigan does include sexual orientation and 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 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 220 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.