Remembering Destiny Howard, Black Transgender Woman Killed In Macon, Georgia

by Violet Lhant

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Destiny Howard, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman who found fatally shot in Macon, Georgia on December 9, 2022. Destiny’s death is at least the 36th 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.

It is heartbreaking to learn of yet another young, Black trans woman lost to whose life was taken by gun violence. Destiny’s life mattered, and it was taken far too soon. Initial reports of Destiny’s death misgendered her, denying her the dignity to be seen as she desired.truly was Our society must recognize that trans women are women and that their lives have worth, and work to end the violence that takes far too many of our lives."

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

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office at 478-751-7500 or Macon Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-877-68CRIME.

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 notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019. Guns are all too commonly used in fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. As reported by the Human Rights Campaign, between 2013 and 2022, more than two-thirds (69%) of all transgender and gender non-conforming victims of fatal violence were killed with a gun or firearm–the majority of whom (68%) were Black transgender women.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Destiny 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 Georgia are not explicitly protected in state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Georgia’s hate crimes law includes sexual orientation but does not explicitly cover gender identity. 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.