The Human Rights Campaign is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Remy Fennell, also known on Facebook and in her work hair styling as Remy Kreations, a Black transgender woman in her 20s, who was shot to death on April 15 in Charlotte, N.C. Her death is at least the 15th 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. Remy’s death is also the second death of a Black transgender woman in Charlotte in the last two weeks, after Jaida Peterson was killed on April 4.
Remy was a hair stylist who owned her own business, Bosskreations. According to an article from PHG Lesbian, Remy’s aunt shared on Facebook, “She was a vibrant young transgender woman who was just trying to make it & was doing it. She started her own business, graduated from cosmetology school… She has left her mark on the hair industry. Don’t be ashamed of a family member or friend just because they identify themselves [differently], just hold them & tell them it’s okay. Families we got to do better.” Friends and family have also been sharing their shock and sadness on social media, with one sharing, “this can’t be real,” and another saying, “this is unbelievable.”
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.
Two individuals have been arrested in the shootings of both Jaida and Remy. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have suggested that the two deaths may be connected. The investigation remains ongoing, and anyone with information can call the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s anonymous Crime Stoppers line at 704-334-1600.
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 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-fourths of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. 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 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.
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.