Remembering Duval Princess, Beloved Hairstylist Who Was “Sweet and Genuine”

by Jose Soto

Duval Princess was a well-known, involved and beloved member of the LGBTQ+ community in Jacksonville, Florida. The 24-year-old was also a popular hairstylist who specialized in wigs and weaves. According to Princess’ family, she had an “outgoing personality” and was “a little firefly,'' as stated in a news report.

According to friends who knew her, Princess was in the early stages of transitioning and identified as transgender. She was shot to death on Jan. 3, 2021. Her death marks at least the second violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year, less than a week into 2022. We say “at least '' because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported, as is the case of Princess. She was repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed in several media reports.

Princess was shot at the Highland Square shopping center on Dunn Avenue in Jacksonville. According to a report, a security guard called local police to inform them that he found an unresponsive body inside of a car located in the shopping center. Family members believe Princess went to the shopping center to meet with someone she knew and are asking the local community and any witnesses to come forward with any information they may have surrounding her death.

It is with great pain and extreme disbelief that we respond to yet another violent death of someone from our community mere days into the new year. Duval Princess was barely able to live as her most authentic self when such a senseless act of violence stole that journey from her. For the transgender community and the LGBTQ+ community at large, violent incidents involving firearms are a continual threat to our livelihood and well-being. We cannot let this year be a reiteration of 2021, the most violent year on record for our community. We must demand that the violence end, but not just members of the trans and LGBTQ+ community, but all of us.”

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

HRC recorded at least 51 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.

Duval Princess’ family has spoken with both the media and the public as they mourn her passing, demanding justice for her murder.

Security video, some of which was shared in this news report, shows an individual waiting at the shopping center when the car Princess was in pulled up. The person went to the driver’s side first, walked over to the passenger side, returned to the driver's side, then back again to the passenger side where they entered the vehicle. According to the report, a flash is then seen in the footage, but was not shared in the report. Shortly after the flash, the person exited the vehicle and ran away.

Anyone with further information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

On social media, friends, family and clients of Princess are sharing fond memories of their times with her, with one client sharing that she was “so sweet and genuine.” Another said there was “never a dull moment when we linked.”

HRC staff are continuing to monitor the developments in the case of Duval Princess’ death.


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, Duval Princess 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 Florida are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Florida does not include sexual orientation and / or 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 hrc.org/CountMeIn.

Topics:
Transgender