HRC is horrified to learn of the death of Yunieski Carey Herrera, also known as Yuni Carey, a 39-year-old Latina transgender woman who was killed in Miami, Florida on November 17 as the result of a stabbing. Her death is believed to be at least the 37th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
HRC has officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people than any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013. Previously, the highest known number of fatal deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people over a 12-month period was in 2017, when we reported 31 people violently killed.
“The loss of any transgender or gender non-conforming person is a tragedy, and Yuni’s death is no exception. The fact that she was killed during Transgender Awareness Week only makes this loss hurt more,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “Yuni’s life was taken by a man who identified as her husband. If we cannot trust the people that we know, who can we trust? It’s critical that everyone -- allies, friends, family, community organizers and elected officials -- take action to end this violence and protect trans and gender non-conforming people. We must stop the stigma that the trans and gender non-conforming community so often faces. This violence must end.”
Herrera was a model, performer, dancer and activist who was well-known and loved by the LGBTQ community in Miami. She was proud of her Cuban heritage. WPLG, a local news station in Miami, quotes Herrera’s friend Raul Griffith as saying, “Besides being strikingly beautiful, she was kind and she was good and she cared as much about others as she would about herself. She was a very special person for many people.” The same source quotes Arianna Lint, founder of Arianna’s Center in South Florida, as describing Herrera as “amazing” and “sweet.”
Over the summer, Herrera posted on Facebook, “I just need to be me and be here. A True Queen inspires all over the world with her legacy and experiences… I make my [own] dreams.” Friends are also posting remembrances of Herrera on social media. “I’m gonna miss you so much,” wrote one friend. “She was a beautiful person inside and out,” said another friend.
A suspect is in custody and has confessed to the killing. He is facing a second-degree murder charge. Conflicting reports have identified him as either Herrera’s boyfriend, fiancé or husband. This once again underscores how intimate partner violence continues to be a more prevalent and deadly threat for trans and gender non-conforming people, especially during the pandemic.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Florida are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. While Florida does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not expressly include gender identity. Nationally, despite some marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.
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 first PSA here.
In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.