HRC mourns the passing of Maddie Hofmann, transgender woman killed by police in Malvern, PA

by Laurel Powell

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Maddie Hofmann, a 47-year-old transgender woman who was killed by police in Malvern, Pennsylvania on May 19, 2022. Maddie is at least the 27th transgender or gender non-conforming person violently killed in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

According to information found online, including a GoFundMe, “Maddie was born in Korea and raised by their adoptive family in NJ and Vermont. One of six siblings, Maddie had an especially deep bond with their younger sister, Emily, who was also adopted from Korea. Their connection grew deeper with age — and more recently in life — as they both found the language to describe the challenges they faced as transracial adoptees in NJ and Vermont in the 1980s and 90s.” Maddie is survived by their spouse, Rebecca, as well as two children and a “large extended family”.

Anytime someone experiencing a mental health crisis is killed by the police, it is incumbent upon each of us to rededicate ourselves to transforming how our society responds to individuals with unmet mental health needs. Now, not only is a family in mourning for the loss of a beloved parent and spouse, but the LGBTQ+ community is mourning another light that has been extinguished far too soon. Maddie’s life was a light in this world.

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

Maddie is the second transgender person that we know of to be killed by police in 2022. On May 19th, police were called to Maddie’s home for a “wellness check,” and found them experiencing a mental health crisis. Less than a minute after entering the home, Maddie was shot and killed. Local news articles cite police reports detailing a struggle over a firearm as justification of the shooting. The Chester County District Attorney has since claimed the police shooting to be “justified.”

In 2022, officer-involved shootings have taken the lives of over 600 people. Maddie’s death marks at least the fourth fatal shooting of a transgender person by police recorded by HRC since 2020. This number may be higher as data is hard to come by and rarely tracked by gender identity – or, as happens frequently, transgender and non-binary people are misgendered and/or deadnamed in reports. Transgender people, especially transgender people of color, are at increased risk of experiencing police brutality, even in the wake of other encountered violence. A 2013 report from National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), found that transgender people who reported to the police after experiencing intimate partner violence and/or hate violence were seven times as likely as cisgender LGBQ+ people to have experienced physical violence at the hands of the police during reporting. The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that over half (58%) of transgender respondents who had interacted with police in the previous year experienced some form of mistreatment, including verbal harassment, misgendering, and physical and sexual assault. Other studies have found that risk of encountering police violence is even higher for BIPOC transgender people than their white transgender peers.

At the same time, police departments are failing to adapt more trans-inclusive policies which could help to counteract these trends. A 2019 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that, of the 25 largest police departments in the United States, only one department required officers to record an individual’s pronouns, none required them to record an individual’s chosen name, and only nine had specific search procedures that were sensitive to the needs of transgender people. None required any extensive training for officers on how to interact with transgender people in an affirming way.

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.