Remembering Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong, aspiring motivational health and beauty advisor

by HRC Staff

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong, also known as Peaches, a 39-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed in Lithonia, Georgia on November 12, 2020. While we were monitoring Fendi’s story, limited information about the cause of her death was available. In a recent news report, a culprit was found guilty of her murder. Fendi’s death was at least the 45th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2020, adding to an unconscionably high level of violence. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

Fendi was from Springfield, Massachusetts and lived in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to Decatur, Georgia shortly before her death. Fendi was an aspiring motivational health and beauty advisor.

It is horrific that we must confirm the violent death of yet another Black trans woman. Fendi deserved to live, but her life was tragically cut short. Gun violence is a plague on our communities that we must all work to stop.”

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

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 70 cases, 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.” 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.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Fendi 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 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.