Mourning Mar’Quis ‘MJ’ Jackson, Black Transgender Man Killed in Philadelphia

by Violet Lhant

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mar’Quis ‘MJ’ Jackson, a Black transgender man who was killed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 12, 2022, his 33rd birthday. Mar’Quis’ death is at least the 37th 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 PghLesbian Correspondents, Mar’Quis’ friend Sharree described him as “full of life and love” and as a person who “would get the party started anywhere.” She also said that Maq’Quis “Loved everybody. He wasn’t a person u can stay mad at.”

Sharree organized a memorial vigil for Mar’Quis on December 18.

While we await details Mar’Quis’ death, the fact that he was killed on his own birthday shows the utter lack of respect our society too often has for transgender and non-binary people. We must all commit ourselves to ending the issues that lead to this epidemic of violence.”

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

Philadelphia Police are investigating Mar’Quis death as a homicide. A suspect was detained and released due to lack of evidence.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Pennsylvania are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Pennsylvania does not include sexual orientation or 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. In 2022 alone, HRC tracked more than 345 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced in state houses across the nation, more than 145 of which specifically target transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

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 Count Me In 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.

  • Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.