Remembering Jasmine “Star” Mack, Black Transgender Woman Killed in Washington, D.C.

by Violet Lhant

HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jasmine “Star” Mack, a 36-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed in Washington, DC on January 7, 2023. Jasmine’s death may be the first violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “may be” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

Star's sister Pamela Witherspoon said that “people treated her so bad because of who she was. She’d been stabbed before. She’d been shot because of her sexuality. She was abused. People rejected her. She just wanted to be herself. She was a sweet person. She was not mean. She just wanted a chance at life.”

Witherspoon also said that Star loved to sing gospel songs and was an excellent actor.

Earline Budd, a DC transgender activist who met Star as a teenager, described her as “a joyful, energetic individual, always willing to listen. She laughed and made you laugh.”

A candlelight vigil for Star was held on January 9.

Star lived a difficult life, but her friends described her as a source of great joy. Her story highlights so many of the barriers in society that keep transgender and non-binary people from thriving. We must work to end these disparities and ensure that all of us are able to live full, happy lives.”

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

Police are currently seeking help from the public in identifying a suspect in Star’s death. Anyone with information is urged to contact the DC police at 202-727-9099. Anonymous information may also be submitted to the police TEXT TIP LINE by sending a text message to 50411.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Washington, D.C. are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Washington, D.C. does include sexual orientation and 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.

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.