LaKendra Andrews, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was from Shreveport, Louisiana, and was the founder of a non-profit. According to PGHLesbian Correspondents, LaKendra was “interested in cooking, drawing, dance, baking, and music. She was a fan of Nicki Minaj.”
LaKendra was fatally shot in Dallas, Texas on April 29, 2023, marking the 26th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person we have identified in 2023. Though LaKendra was killed over six months ago, we are only learning of her death now, as initial reporting misgendered LaKendra. It is only through reporting from the advocacy organization Nu Trans Movement that we were able to identify her death.
LaKendra is at least the 14th Black transgender woman killed in 2023, and at least the 19th trans or gender non-conforming person killed with a gun. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported —or victims are misgendered or misreported—leading to delays in reporting, as, unfortunately, was the case for LaKendra.
Police are currently investigating, and according to Nu Trans Movement, “Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call the Dallas Police Department at 214-671-3632. They can reference case No. 072504-2023. People can also call 214-373-8477 to submit tips anonymously to Crime Stoppers, which is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest and indictment in the case.”
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, LaKendra was misgendered in some media and police reports. 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 two-thirds of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement—including half of all victims identified so far in 2023. 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.
LaKendra is at least the second trans or gender non-conforming person killed in Texas in 2023, and at least the 34th killed since HRC began tracking in 2013. As of this writing, Texas is home to more instances of fatal violence than any other state, accounting for more than 1 in 10 of all victims identified to date. At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Texas are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Texas does not include 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 unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. In June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared aNational 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.