HRC Mourns Koko Da Doll, “Kokomo City” Documentary Star, Killed by Gun Violence in Atlanta

by Jared Todd

Koko Da Doll was a 35-year-old Black transgender woman, a successful rapper who was working on new music, and starred in the barrier-breaking, award-winning Sundance Film Festival documentary, “Kokomo City.” Tragically, Koko was found shot to death near an Atlanta shopping plaza on April 18. Koko’s death is at least the 10th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023, and the 3rd known transgender or gender non-conforming person to have been murdered in Georgia this year alone, following the deaths of Tortuguita, 26, and Ashley Burton, 37. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. Koko and Ashley, two Black transgender women, were killed within just one week of each other.

According to Gaye Magazine, close friends and family have confirmed that Koko was the victim in social media posts. As reported by Deadline, Atlanta police are investigating the killing after being called to the scene of the shooting on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW.

Koko’s death is devastating. She was a glowing inspiration to so many young Black trans girls in the community and her loss will continue to be deeply felt for generations. Koko's endlessly creative talent and passion for always doing the right thing were cut short by senseless gun violence.

I’m outraged – this country’s gun violence epidemic is especially troubling for those of us who are simply trying to live the fullness of our lives. We must work on every front to end the violence as well as the stigma that perpetuates it. While we mourn Koko alongside family and friends, we call for absolute transparency and justice from police and public officials."

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

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to raise funds for funeral costs. “Koko was well known in the LGBTQ community here in Atlanta. Koko was one of Atlanta’s finest and most loving transgender women,” organizers of the Go Fund Me campaign wrote.

As a black transgender woman, the deaths of my sisters weigh heavily on my heart. Each loss is a reminder that our lives are undervalued and that the world is not yet safe for us. We deserve to exist without fear of violence, discrimination, or hate. Until we can live freely and authentically, until our lives are cherished and protected, we will continue to fight for our survival. Rest in power to all the trans women who have left us too soon - your memory will not be forgotten, and your legacy will inspire us to keep pushing for a better world."

Tatyana Moaton, PhD, MBA-HRM, Black & Pink National Executive Director

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 three-fourths 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 Georgia are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Georgia does not include sexual orientation and/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 anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 210 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.

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.