Shawmaynè Giselle Marie was known as a true, loving friend and family member to all who knew her. She touched many lives working as a personal care assistant and as a certified nursing assistant for almost four years. Shawmaynè, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Gulfport, Mississippi on June 21, 2022. She was 27 years old. Shawmaynè’s death is at least the 18th 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.
Shawmaynè was born and raised in Gulfport and attended Gulfport High School. Friends and family remembered Shawmaynè on social media as a loving, funny, kind and genuine person who cared deeply about her loved ones. Neighbors said Shawmaynè was friendly and very kind.
After midnight on June 21, Shawmaynè was shot inside a residence at Emerald Pines Apartments in Gulfport, MS. According to reports, an argument led to a person pulling out a gun and opening fire. Shawmaynè’s sister was also shot and was last listed as hospitalized in critical condition. Other family members, including children, were inside the residence at the time of the shooting, according to WLOX, but none were harmed. According to the Sun Herald, police have arrested a suspect on first-degree murder and aggravated assault charges.
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, 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.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Shawmaynè 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 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 Mississippi are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Mississippi does not include sexual orientation and/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.