Rikkey Otumuro, a 39-year-old Latina transgender woman, was a popular and well-loved member of the Washington LGBTQ+ community. Outumuro, a.k.a. Tru Starlet, was fatally shot in Centralia, Washington, on the night of Oct. 30 or the morning of Oct. 31, 2021. Outumuro’s death is at least the 44th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. We say “at least'' because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. Her death marks the fifth case from the Pacific Northwest in 2021. We previously reported the deaths of Ollie Taylor, Zoey Martinez, Jo Acker and Jessi Hart.
Outumuro performed under the drag name Tru Starlet and was a former Miss Gay Lewis County. Friends remembered her on social media, with one writing that she was “an incredible advocate for the queer and trans community for nearly 20 years...She focused much of her time organizing and sharing her fire and wisdom with the students at Centralia College. She was always profoundly herself and a brilliant light for countless loved ones and folx in Centralia and Olympia, WA.”
Anna Schlecht, former chair of Capital City Pride, wrote “I’ve known her since she was little. She was best friends with my then-girlfriend’s daughter. They would go to the neighborhood food co-op and play ‘dress up drag queen’ near the free box to the delight of co-op members, often doing little drag shows.”
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.
A suspect in Outumuro’s death has been charged with first-degree murder, domestic violence and is being held without bail.
Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people. In 2020, approximately seven in ten transgender and gender non-conforming people killed as a result of fatal violence were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner. Unfortunately, the relationship of the victim to the killer is still unknown for close to one-third (30%) of all known cases. This means that anywhere from 44% to 74% of victims since 2013 were violently killed by someone they knew, including intimate partners, family members, friends, peers and acquaintances.
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 is exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
While we have recently have seen some gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced anti-LGBTQ attacks at many levels of government this year, with more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 120 of which directly target transgender people. In May, 2021 set a record as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history.
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.
HRC has also launched the “Count Me In” campaign to encourage everyone, LGBTQ people and allies, to get loud, get visible and spread awareness on behalf of transgender and non-binary people. The more people who show they care, including allies and trans and non-binary people who speak up for the most marginalized in our community, the more hearts and minds we will change. Learn more and take action at hrc.org/CountMeIn.
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.