HRC Remembers Morgan Moore, Gifted Artist, Beloved Brother

by Jared Todd

Morgan Moore had a natural talent for music, loved to cook, and is remembered as an “all-around great person” by relatives. His siblings gave him one of the most supportive and impactful gifts any relative can give to a person of transgender experience: they simply respected him as the brother he was. Morgan was also disabled and lived with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and long COVID. Sadly, Morgan, age 17, died May 10, 2022 in Montgomery Village, MD as a result of criminal neglect from his parents resulting in worsened health issues. Morgan’s death is at least the 39th 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.

According to the Disability Day of Mourning website, “medics were called to Morgan’s house, where they found him dead, weighing only 79 pounds. His family told emergency responders that he had not seen a doctor in two years.” Police recently charged Morgan’s parents with second-degree murder and six counts of neglect of a minor.

What happened to Morgan was inhumane. Morgan deserved the same respect and love from his parents as he received from his siblings, who were such a loving support in his life. Morgan’s beautiful memory is a reminder to all of us that we need to do better. Folks living with disabilities, Black and Brown people, and transgender people require the same love and respect that is given so freely to the many who take it for granted. We’ll remember Morgan as the bright artist and good person that he was."

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative
One of Morgan’s siblings said it best: “I want people who are transphobic and not accepting of their children to accept their kids for who they are and love them no matter what.”

Children with disabilities are more likely to experience violence than children without disabilities. A 2022 study by The Lancet analyzed responses from 16 million young people in 25 countries conducted between 1990 and 2020. It found that “about one-third of young children and teenagers with disabilities face emotional and physical abuse, while 20% experience neglect and one in 10 sexual violence…They are twice as likely to face neglect and sexual, physical or mental abuse than children with no disabilities.”

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 it is likely 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,” that 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, Morgan 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 were 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 Maryland are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Maryland does include sexual orientation and 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:

  • Read these guidelines and this FAQ for journalists to ensure greater accuracy and respect in reporting.