Remembering Chyna Long, Black Transgender Woman Killed In Milwaukee

by Jose Soto

The life of Chyna Long, a 30-year-old Black transgender woman and dance choreographer, was remembered and honored on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as friends, family and members of the local LGBTQ+ community gathered at the Zao MKE Church. Chyna was killed on Sunday, October 8, 2023, marking the at least 20th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. The Human Rights Campaign is deeply saddened to report on Chyna’s passing. Chyna was also the at least fourth transgender woman killed in Milwaukee over the past 16 months.

According to court documents obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Anotonio Currin was arrested and charged with first-degree reckless homicide and with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Chyna’s murder case. The court documents suggest that Currin was seen in a surveillance video leaving his home at 7:34 a.m. on the morning of October 8. At around 7:47 a.m., an eye witness saw a masked man who matched Currin’s description talking to a person inside a Chevy Impala from where a series of gunshots rang out. Surveillance video captured the vehicle speeding away from the scene where Chyna was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Yet again, we are tragically observing another fatal incident involving a Black transgender woman from our community. And adding to the devastation is the fact that Chyna was killed by a gun, just like so many other members of our community. We can’t remain silent or idle as we witness the horrors of gun violence and all fatal violence against the trans and gender non-conforming community. We must honor Chyna’s life by demanding change.”

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

No direct personal involvement between Currin and Chyna has been established as of the time of publication. Currin, during police questioning, denied involvement in Chyna’s murder, claiming to have been at work between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. the day of the murder. Police have established he did not clock in to work until 7:52 a.m., and additional surveillance footage show him arriving to work in the same vehicle reported to have been seen leaving the crime scene.

Speaking to local news, Chyna’s aunt, Lisa, said “We loved her, we accepted her a long time ago, we accepted who she wanted to be and we watched her be happy being who she wanted to be.” When asked if he believed that Chyna’s murder was a hate crime, Chyna’s father, John, responded with “I know it was.”

This year alone, 12 Black transgender women have been violently killed, 83% of them done so by gun violence.

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 cases a day, according to a 2022 report from Everytown for Gun Safety in partnership with HRC and The Equality Federation Support Fund, “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” HRC’s own tracking found that, since 2013, at least 230 transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence have been killed with a firearm, approximately 70% of all deaths identified to date. The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI recorded a record-high number of hate crimes related to gender identity, including a 33% jump in hate crimes on the basis of gender identity from the year before.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Wisconsin are not fully and explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Furthermore, Wisconsin does not include sexual orientation and/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 unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the states. In June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, as a result of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses that year, over 80 of which were signed into law—more than in any other year.

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.