HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jaida Peterson, a 29-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed on April 4 in Charlotte, N.C. At least 14 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed so far in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
Jaida posted about family on Facebook, sharing birthday wishes, videos and conversations. Her family and friends have been remembering her on social media, with her sister sharing, “you are going to be truly missed and once again we love you always.” Local advocates in Charlotte held a vigil on April 9 to remember her.
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.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has ruled Jaida’s death a homicide, and asks anyone with information to contact 704-432-TIPS, or leave information anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or charlottecrimestoppers.com.
In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Jaida was misnamed and 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 North Carolina are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. North Carolina also does not have a law that expressly addresses hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2016, North Carolina passed an anti-LGBTQ bathroom bill to widespread outrage, seriously damaging the state’s reputation. This year, anti-LGBTQ legislators have introduced additional anti-trans legislation — including bills that would ban transgender-affirming care for anyone under 21 and require state employees to out trans and queer young people to their parents, and a measure that would ban transgender youth from participating in sports matching their gender identity. 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 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 100 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.
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.
HRC has also launched the “Count Me In” campaign to encourage everyone, LGBTQ people and allies, to get loud, get visible and spread awareness on behalf of transgender and non-binary people. The more people who show they care, including allies and trans and non-binary people who speak up for the most marginalized in our community, the more hearts and minds we will change. Learn more and take action at hrc.org/CountMeIn.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.