HRC Remembers Hayden Davis, 28-year-old Transgender Woman Killed in Detroit

by Jared Todd

Hayden Davis’s interests were wide-ranging, from fashion and the Kardashians to skincare and makeup. Her smile was bright and she had an active presence on social media. On July 25, Hayden, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed. Hayden’s death is at least the 24th 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.

At 28, Hayden Davis had a beautiful life in front of her. Now, she’s been taken from us in a horrible act of violence. Every day across our country, we are faced with the reality of violence against our community, particularly against Black and brown transgender women. Violence is one of the horrific results of anti-transgender stigma and ugly rhetoric. Every person has a responsibility to stop the spread of anti-transgender stigma – to stand up for the respect and dignity of every human being. We demand more to protect transgender lives. The violence must end."

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

Unfortunately I can confirm that another trans woman of color was murdered in Detroit and it's an ongoing pandemic that I'm always fighting. I'm fighting to get justice for my fallen sisters and their family members. At this time, there's no information that I am able to share as a Victim Advocate. What I will say is that Detroit has made monumental changes when it comes to community coming forward and interacting with police. And I asked during this time that we continue to keep those lines of communication open to get our victim justice."

Julisa Abad, Victim Advocate for Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and Director of Transgender Outreach & Advocacy for Fair Michigan

Police were called to the corner of Fenkell Avenue & Lesure Street in Detroit around 11 p.m. after a neighbor discovered Hayden’s body wrapped in a blanket on the sidewalk. Witnesses told local news that Hayden jumped out of a vehicle and was then chased while being shot at. Police have determined that Hayden was shot multiple times. The investigation is ongoing and officials have yet to release details regarding identification. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detroit police at 313-596-2260. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-Speak-Up.

Hayden’s death also marks at least the third killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in Michigan this year. In February, Naomi Skinner was murdered in Highland Park and in May, Ray Muscat was murdered in Oakland County. She is also among the at least six other incidents of fatal violence identified this month (with two additional incidents of concern being monitored by HRC as of this writing), making July the deadliest month so far in 2022 for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

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 2017-2022 Transgender Homicide Tracker, the vast majority of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, with Black transgender women accounting for 73% of all transgender gun homicide victims. 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 Michigan are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Michigan does include 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 anti-LGBTQ+ attacks at many levels of government this year. As of this writing, more than 270 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 110 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.