Remembering Jenny De Leon, “An Enigmatic, Bright Soul” Killed in Tampa, Florida

by Violet Lhant

HRC is honoring the memory of Jenny De Leon, a 25-year-old Latina transgender woman who was found dead in Tampa, Florida, on Nov. 2, 2021. De Leon’s death is at least the 46th 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. In 2021, HRC has recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people than any year prior. Previously, the highest number of fatal deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people that HRC Foundation has tracked over a 12 month period was just last year in 2020, when at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed.

De Leon attended PFLAG Tampa meetings and sought their help when she began transitioning. The organization wrote that “Jenny was an enigmatic, bright soul with enough energy to fill any room.”

Lucas Aiden Wehle, a member of Equality Florida’s TransAction Florida Advisory Council, also remembered her, writing “Jenny was such a fun-spirited and stubborn young woman who never let anything get in her way. Although I had not had communication with her in a few years, I am deeply saddened by this news. My heart aches for every single person we have lost this year and the years prior but this has to stop.”

Unspoken Treasure Society has been giving a voice to the most marginalized communities in North Florida. We are stunned that yet another trans woman of color has been murdered right under our nose without a suspect being arrested. Today we speak your name Jenny! We will continue to fight for Justice.”

Regina Livingston, Unspoken Treasure Society

My heart goes out to Jenny’s family, our friends at PFLAG Tampa and Equality Florida, and all those who love and remember her. The police indicated that she was experiencing housing insecurity, a sad situation that places far too many transgender people in danger. With so much uncertainty in this case, we hope that a suspect is found and justice is served.”

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

The Tampa Police Department said that “Detectives need tips to help bring the person or people responsible for her death to justice.” Those with information about De Leon’s death are urged to call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, Inc. at 1-800-873-8477, case #21-463329.

At the state level, the Florida Commission on Human Relations recently announced its intention to fully implement the Bostock v. Clayton County decision to effectively extend non-discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public spaces to LGBTQ residents. While Florida does include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, it does not expressly include gender identity. While recent weeks have seen some gains that support and affirm transgender people, we are also currently facing anti-LGBTQ attacks at many levels of government, with more than 260 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country, more than 120 of which directly target transgender people.

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

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. For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit