HRC Mourns Keri Washington, Black Transgender Woman Killed in Clearwater, Florida

by Violet Lhant

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Keri Washington, a 49-year-old Black transgender woman, who was found dead in Clearwater, Florida, on May 1, 2021.

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Keri Washington, a 49-year-old Black transgender woman, who was found dead in Clearwater, Florida, on May 1, 2021. Keri’s death is at least the 20th 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. Keri’s death marks the second known killing of a Black transgender woman in Florida this year, following Alexus Braxton in Miami on February 4.

Unfortunately, as of the time of this blog’s publication, not much else is known about the incident or about Keri’s personal life.

“Our community is yet again in mourning as a result of senseless acts of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. Keri was at least the fourth transgender woman killed in less than 10 days, each of them Black or Brown. We urge everyone to end the stigma against transgender people, and to destroy the roots of transphobia and racism that fuel this violence.”

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

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.

Keri was found killed behind Palmetto Park Apartments on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, and anyone with information is encouraged to call Clearwater police at 727-562-4242.

At the state level, the Florida Commission on Human Relations recently announced its intention to fully implement the Bostock v. Clayton County decision to effectively extend non-discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public spaces to LGBTQ residents. While Florida does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not expressly include 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 260 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 120 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.

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. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit