Remembering Ashley Burton, Black Transgender Woman Killed In Atlanta, Georgia

by Jarred Keller

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Ashley Burton, a 37-year-old Black transgender woman, who was killed in Atlanta, Georgia on April 11, 2023. Ashley’s death is at least the ninth violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023, and the second death to occur in Georgia since the start of 2023. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, Ashley’s brother Patrick praised her authenticity as a trans woman saying, “The way my sibling moved in life, it was…take it or leave it. ‘This is how I am.’ You can respect it or neglect it, but Ashley put it out there and let that person know. It’s not going to be a secret." Ashley’s cousin describes her as “a courageous fighter who fled her assailant and desperately sought help from her neighbors before she died.”

Ashley’s family knew her as a confident woman who was comfortable in her own skin and a proud member of the trans community. As a talented hairstylist and makeup artist, it’s disheartening to see someone with so much potential have their life cut short. Although she is no longer with us, we will never forget the impact Ashley left on her community, friends and family."

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

Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people. The 10th annual report from HRC tracking fatal violence against the transgender and gender non-conforming community, “An Epidemic of Violence 2022,” found that between 2013 and 2022 , approximately one third 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 a fifth (19%) of all known perpetrators–and it is likely this may even be an undercount. To date, no arrest has been made and the killer remains unknown, or at large, for a plurality (44%) 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.

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 cases each day, according to a 2022 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation “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. HRC’s own tracking of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people found that between 2013 and 2022, more than two-thirds of all recorded fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people involved a firearm – including over three -quarters of all reported fatalities in 2022.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Georgia are notexplicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Though we have recently seen some political gains that support and affirm transgender people, we have also faced unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states.

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.