HRC Mourns Dede Ricks, Black Transgender Woman Killed in Detroit

by Jared Todd

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dede Ricks, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman who was shot and killed in Detroit on August 27th. Dede’s death is at least the 28th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022 and the second killing of a Black transgender woman in Detroit within a month, following the death of Hayden Davis in July. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

Dede’s death is an absolute tragedy. Our hearts go out to her family and friends. What we are witnessing in Detroit with yet another killing of a Black transgender woman underscores the hate we face every day for just living our lives. We know that hateful rhetoric and stigma helps fuel this violence. Everyone, from public officials to neighbors and coworkers, have a responsibility to call out hate when they see it. The anti-transgender rhetoric must stop – we deserve to live our lives without threat of harassment or violence."

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

Just before 3:40 a.m. on August 27, Dede was found dead in her home in Detroit with gunshot wounds. A suspect has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and felony firearm, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. The homicide is still under investigation and believed to be unrelated to Hayden’s death in July.

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, the vast majority 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.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Michigan are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Michigan does 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 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.

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