HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Danika “Danny” Henson, a 31-year-old Black transgender woman who was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 4.
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Danika “Danny” Henson, who also went by Pryynce Daniel and Niia Da Don on Facebook, a 31-year-old Black transgender woman who was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 4. Henson also may have identified as genderfluid. According to family, Henson had just begun transitioning. Henson’s death is at least the 24th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
Henson also went by several nicknames, including Miixhii and Pryynce Miixhii. Friends and family are sharing their memories of Henson. One family member shared that Henson “always had a BIG heart… there was love behind everything!” One friend remembered Henson as “the embodiment of love,” while another shared that Henson was “so good and sweet to everyone.” On May 6, friends, family and the Baltimore Safe Haven hosted a candlelight and balloon release vigil to remember Henson.
HRC recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.
Homicide detectives at the Baltimore Police Department are currently investigating Henson’s death and have a suspect. Anyone with information can contact detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7Lockup.
Henson’s family members have said that they believe Henson may have been killed by an acquaintance or someone that Henson has a relationship with. Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people. In 2020, approximately seven in ten transgender and gender non-conforming people killed as a result of fatal violence were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner. Unfortunately, the relationship of the victim to the killer is still unknown for close to one-third (30%) of all known cases. This means that anywhere from 44% to 74% of victims since 2013 were violently killed by someone they knew, including intimate partners, family members, friends, peers and acquaintances.
Additionally, according to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, 54% of transgender and non-binary people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life. Last year, HRC released a report, titled “LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19,” that details the increased risk of interpersonal violence faced by LGBTQ people, which is exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-fourths of confirmed 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.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Henson 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 Maryland are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces, but not in education. Maryland expressly includes both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in its hate crimes law. While recent weeks have seen some gains that support and affirm transgender people, we are also currently facing anti-LGBTQ attacks at many levels of government, with more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 120 of which directly target transgender people. Last week, 2021 set a record as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history.
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.
In order to work towards this goal and combat stigma against transgender and non-binary people, HRC has collaborated with WarnerMedia on a PSA campaign to lift up their voices and stories. Learn more and watch the PSAs here.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.