HRC is horrified to learn of the death of Kimberly Fial, a 55-year-old white transgender woman who was killed in San Jose, Calif. on Nov. 22 as the result of a stabbing. HRC has now tracked at least 41 deaths this year of transgender and gender non-conforming people. At the time of Fial’s death, her death was believed to have been at least the 40th reported. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
According to The Mercury News, Fial volunteered at the homeless shelter at Grace Baptist Church where she was killed. Those who knew her said she was a “proud trans woman.” She “loved bright colors” and had the “ability to draw a laugh out of people around her.” Fial is remembered by friends and loved ones as “a kind and loving person” and someone with “a twinkle in her eye.” Said shelter manager Anthony Mastrocola, “My heart always felt warm when I saw her when I got into the building.” A vigil was held to remember Fial and all the victims of the stabbing last week.
HRC has officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people than any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013. Previously, the highest known number of deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people over a 12-month period was in 2017, when we reported 31 people violently killed.
The attacker who took Fial’s life also killed one other person and left three others wounded. The suspect has been arrested and is in custody. He has been charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Lewis #3161 or Detective Meeker #3272 of the San Jose Police Department’s Homicide unit at 408-277-5283, or to remain anonymous, call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 408-947-7867.
At the state level in California, explicit protections are in place for transgender and gender non-conforming people in housing, employment, education and public accommodations. In addition, both gender identity and sexual orientation are expressly included in California’s hate crimes law. Nationally, despite some marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
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 first PSA 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 hrc.org/transgender.