HRC Mourns the Death of Kandii Redd, Black Transgender Woman Killed in Kansas City, Missouri

by Laurel Powell

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Kandii Redd, also known to friends and family as Kamila Marie Swann or Dee Dee, a 29-year-old Black transgender woman.

Dee Dee was killed in Kansas City, MO on July 24, 2022. Dee Dee’s death is at least the 25th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. Tragically, July has emerged as the deadliest month of 2022, with seven transgender people losing their lives to fatal violence.

Information on Dee Dee is scarce, though we know enough to say that she was a model and performer, doubtless appreciated and loved by those close to her in life.

“Dee Dee, also known as Kamila Marie Swann, deserved a long and full life filled with joy and hope - just like each and every one of us,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative. “Yet again, we mourn for one of our own taken far too soon. Yet again, we find ourselves asking how we can stem the tide of fatal violence that too many Black transgender women face. I don’t yet know how, but I do know we must.”

Unfortunately, Dee Dee was misgendered in media reports about her death, which may complicate efforts to bring chosen family and friends forward to assist in the investigation. Reports indicate that her death may have been the result of an argument, possibly with an intimate partner.

Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people. A report by the HRC Foundation, “An Epidemic of Violence 2021,” found that between 2013 and 2021, approximately two-thirds of transgender and gender non-conforming people with known killers had their lives taken by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner. Intimate partners specifically accounted for over a fifth (21%) of all known perpetrators–and this may even be an undercount. To date, the relationship of the victim to the killer is still unknown for a plurality (43%) of all identified cases of fatal violence.

Additionally, according to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, 54% of transgender and non-binary people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life. Last year, HRC released a report, titled “LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence and COVID-19,” which details the increased risk of interpersonal violence faced by LGBTQ+ people which has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Dee Dee 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 are 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 Missouri are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Missouri does include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics 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 3000 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, nearly 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 the 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.