HRC Honors the Life of Diamond Jackson-McDonald, Black Transgender Woman Killed in Philadelphia

by Jared Todd

Remembered by loved ones as a loving person and a gem, Diamond Jackson-McDonald was excited about life and cared deeply for her family. On Thanksgiving day, at just 27-years-old, Diamond was shot and killed in Philadelphia. Diamond’s death is at least the 35th 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.

Diamond was a beautiful gem who should still be with us today. All of us – allies and community members alike – grieve with her family and friends. Diamond’s life mattered. We stand with her family and call for justice for Diamond. The epidemic of violence we face as Black transgender women is driven by stigma and hate. And it’s all just because we wish to live our lives. All of us, including allies, have a responsibility to hold the people in our lives accountable for their words because ideologies of hate do in fact lead to violence. It must end.”

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

Diamond’s mother, Linda Jackson, told local press: “I just want the world to know that Diamond was my rock, my shoulder, my child whom I love with every inch of me of what I have left to give. Whoever you are, you took away my gem, my Diamond, someone whom was all about her family and friends. You tore many hearts and we will not rest until we get justice. I will not sleep until you are caught.”

On the morning of November 24th, Diamond was shot and killed in her mother’s apartment in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Police say there were no obvious signs of forced entry and continue to investigate. No arrests have been made. Anyone with information about Diamond’s death can contact Philadelphia police by calling or texting the tip line: (215) 686-8477, or by submitting an anonymous online form.

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 notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019. Guns are all too commonly used in fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. As reported by the Human Rights Campaign, between 2013 and 2022, more than two-thirds (69%) of all transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence were killed with a gun or firearm–the majority of whom (68%) were Black transgender women.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Pennsylvania 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. In 2022 alone, HRC tracked more than 345 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in state houses across the nation, more than 145 of which specifically target transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

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.

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