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HRC is horrified to learn of the death of Brooklyn Deshuna, whom some reports identify as Brooklyn DeShauna Smith, a young Black transgender woman who was killed in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 7 as a result of a gunshot wound. Brooklyn was only 20 years old. Brooklyn’s death is the fifth violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in just three weeks, and is believed to be at least the 32nd violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
HRC has now officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people than any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013. Previously, the highest number of fatal deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people over a 12-month period was in 2017, when we reported 31 people violently killed.
“Brooklyn was just 20 years old, at the beginning of her life. She did not deserve to have that life taken from her. Not one of the trans and gender non-conforming people who have been killed this year deserved to have their lives taken from them,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “With the news of Brooklyn’s death, we’ve now seen more trans and gender non-conforming people killed this year since we began tracking these deaths in 2013. This violence is horrific, and it must be stopped. We need everyone to commit to taking action today to bring this violence to an end. As we mourn with Brooklyn’s friends and family, we will continue fighting for justice for all trans and gender non-conforming people.”
Brooklyn attended Bossier Parish Community College and studied cosmetology. Friends are remembering Brooklyn on social media, with one friend saying that she was “genuinely a good person,” and another sharing “you didn’t deserve this… I’m heartbroken.” Friends and family are also calling for justice.
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 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. Three-fourths of 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.
The Shreveport Police Department asks anyone with information to contact them at 318-673-7300 #3 or 318-673-6955. Those who prefer to reach out anonymously should contact Caddo Shreveport Crime Stoppers at 318-673-7373 or via their app, P3Tips.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Louisiana are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. While Louisiana does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not include gender identity. Nationally, despite some marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color — particularly Black transgender women — must cease.
In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.