HRC Mourns Diamond Brigman, “Larger Than Life” Black Trans Woman Fatally Shot in Houston, TX

by Kathryn Smith

Diamond Brigman, a 36-year old Black trans woman, was killed in Houston, TX, on March 16, 2024. Diamond’s death is at least the third confirmed violent killing of a transgender or gender expansive person in 2024. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported or misreported. HRC is also tracking additional cases, including that of Nex Benedict, in which we reiterate calls for a full and complete investigation.

Diamond was shot in a drive-by shooting while standing on the side of a street in Houston. Her murderer has still not been apprehended, though police believe they have located and recovered the car used in the killing, and have released a physical description of the suspect, gained from a “courageous witness,” who stayed with Diamond after the shooting until authorities arrived. A vigil is set to take place on Sunday, March 24.

Diamond was described by her friend as “larger than life” and said that “she had a lot of energy and was always smiling and personable.” This friend also reiterated the need for change to happen to prevent the epidemic of murders of trans people, especially Black transgender women. "Black trans women deserve to grow old," she said.

Diamond’s death underscores a pattern that we have been warning would continue without meaningful change/ Texas has weak gun laws, and is responsible for one in five anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country. Now, a transgender woman has been fatally shot. This is intricately tied together, and attempts to say otherwise ignores reality. Diamond deserves justice, and we will keep fighting in her name.

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

Texas unfortunately remains the state with the highest number of anti-trans murders in the nation. As of this writing, Diamond is the 35th trans or gender-expansive victim of fatal violence identified in Texas since HRC began tracking fatal violence in 2013, with Texas accounting for more than 1 in 10 of all victims HRC has identified to-date. All but one of these 35 victims were transgender women, and more than half (57.1%, n=20) were Black transgender women, specifically.

The impact of guns and firearms also cannot be ignored: More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 instances a day, according to a 2023 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation Support Fund, “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” To date, 24 trans and gender-expansive victims of fatal violence in Texas were killed with a gun, accounting for two-thirds (68.6%) of all deaths in the state. However, gun violence not only impacts trans and gender-expansive Texans, but Texans as a whole–and Black and Brown Texans in particular. As reported by Everytown for Gun Safety, nearly 4,000 people die each year by gun violence in the state, with gun deaths increasing by over 46% over the last decade. Black Texans experienced the highest rate of firearm deaths of any racial/ethnic group, with Black Texans six times more likely than white Texans to die by gun homicide.

The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI recorded a record-high number of hate crimes related to gender identity, including a 33% jump in hate crimes on the basis of gender identity from the year before.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Diamond 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 two-thirds 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-expansive people in Texas are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Texas 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 unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in states across the country. In June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, as a result of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses that year, over 80 of which were signed into law—more than in any other year. As of this writing, almost more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced into state houses since the beginning of 2024.

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-expansive community.

While Diamond’s killer has not been identified, police have a description of the suspect, describing them as a male passenger who had been driving a 2017 white Chevrolet Malibu LT, who is “5 feet 5 inches tall, with a thin build, and wearing a gray hooded jacket” Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at (713) 308-3600 or speak anonymously with Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.

More resources:

  • Learn more about the fatal violence cases that HRC is tracking where details are unclear. You may find a list of these cases here.

  • Watch this PSA campaign elevating stories of trans joy and love.

  • Join HRC's CountMeIn campaign to take action for transgender and non-binary people.

  • Read these guidelines and this FAQ for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.

  • Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.