HRC Mourns Tasiyah “Siyah” Woodland, Black Transgender Woman Killed in ‘Senseless Act of Gun Violence’

by Laurel Powell

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Tasiyah Woodland, also known as Siyah by her friends and family, an 18-year-old Black transgender woman who was tragically killed in St. Mary’s County, MD on March 24, 2023. Tasiyah’s death is at least the 8th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

On a GoFundMe page set up by Lizzy Woodland, described in media reports as Tasiyah’s aunt, Tasiyah was described as “a woman who was high-spirited and protective of those she loved,” and that she made everyone around her know that they were loved.

Yet again, we find ourselves mourning the loss of a Black transgender woman whose life was stolen from her. Gun violence is part and parcel of the epidemic of violence against our community. The result is all too familiar: Tasiyah has been taken from those who loved her and whose lives she made brighter. We mourn with them.”

Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative.

On the night Tasiyah was killed, police identified a 29-year-old D.C. man as the suspected gunman, who has since been charged with murder. Tasiyah’s family has said that her death was the result of a hate crime.

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 cases, according to a 2022 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation Support Fund, “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. HRC’s own tracking of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people found that between 2013 and 2022, more than two-thirds of all recorded fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people involved a firearm – including over three -quarters of all reported fatalities in 2022.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Tasiyah was 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 Maryland are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Maryland does include sexual orientation and 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 unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. As of this writing, more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, greater than 150 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.

  • Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.