Remembering Danyale Thompson, Black Trans Woman Tragically Killed

by Jose Soto

HRC is remembering Danyale Thompson, a 35-year-old Black transgender woman from Memphis, Tennessee. Danyale celebrated her 35th birthday in March, according to her Facebook profile, and expressed gratitude for being able to “prosper, grow and achieve once again.”

Danyale was killed in Memphis on Nov. 13, 2021, marking the at least 48th 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, as is the case with Danyale, who was misgendered in the sole news report on her death available at the time of publishing.

Danyale was found shot at the parking lot of Bellevue Inn at around 1 a.m., according to police. She was taken to a local hospital where she later died. Memphis police are looking for the alleged gunman, who also stole Danyale’s vehicle after shooting her.

A Memphis native, Danyale graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 2002 and studied at the University of Memphis. Advocates at WeCareTN, a community-based organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community in Tennessee, spoke with HRC regarding Danyale’s death and are hoping more attention is brought to her case.

Having lost yet another Black transgender woman to such tragic means is heartbreaking, but also serves as a reminder that we must continue to fight for the safety of our community, especially when it comes to gun control. Too often, members of the transgender community are senselessly and violently taken from us by firearms. Danyale’s death comes at a somber time for the community as we recognize this year as the most violent and deadliest year on record for our community."

Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative

HRC has officially recorded 48 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.

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.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Danyale 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 Tennessee are not explicity

protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Tennessee does not include gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. 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