HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Tiara Banks, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, who was killed in Chicago, Illinois, on April 21, 2021. Tiara’s death is at least the 16th 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.
Tiara was shot to death in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. According to a news report, Tiara was sitting alone in her Ford Fusion when the shooter approached the vehicle and shot Tiara multiple times. Tiara was pronounced dead at the scene.
Unfortunately, as of the time of this blog’s publication, not much else is known about the incident or about Tiara’s personal life. A Facebook post from Howard Brown Health, a community-based LGBTQ health organization based in Chicago, announced Tiara’s death while acknowledging the epidemic of violence against the transgender community. The post also calls for an end to transphobia and anti-transgender violence. In the last four months, three transgender women have been killed in Chicago.
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.
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 Illinois are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Illinois does include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in its hate crimes law. 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 250 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 120 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.
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.