Remembering Kejuan Richardson, Gender Non-Confirming Black Man Killed in Toledo, Ohio

by Jarred Keller

Kejuan Richardson, a gender non-conforming Black man, loved to sing and is remembered for their deep love of music by friends and family. On November 14, 2023, Kejuan, 21, was shot and killed in Toledo, Ohio, while driving around their hometown with their friend, Amiri Reid, a Black transgender woman; Amiri was also killed in the shooting. Kejuan’s death is at least the 28th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023. We say “at least'' because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

According to PGH Lesbian, “officers were dispatched to the area of Rosedale and Bluff. When officers arrived, they found the victims each suffering from gunshot wounds. The coroner’s office report said an autopsy found “Richardson died from two gunshot wounds to the head and neck and Reid died from two gunshot wounds to the head.” The suspected shooter, Jorenzo Phillips, subsequently died by suicide on November 23rd, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The killing of Black trans and gender non-conforming people is a devastating trend that continues to rise. We’ve seen too many lives, like Kejuan’s, taken far too early, and as a Black trans woman, it makes me angry to read yet another headline of a murder within the trans community. Despite Kejuan’s life ending so tragically, it is important to remember them for all the amazing things they did while they were still here without disregarding the horrific way that they died. Kejuan and Amiri’s lives must be celebrated to remind those with hate in their hearts that the trans community will not be silenced.”

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

Kejuan is at least the 21st trans or gender non-conforming person killed in 2023 with a gun. 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. In 2022, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI recorded a record-high number of hate crimes related to gender identity, including a 33% jump in hate crimes on the basis of gender identity from the year before. HRC’s own tracking of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people found that between 2013 and 2023, approximately seven in ten (69.6%) of all recorded fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people involved a firearm.

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 the 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 June 2023, the Human Rights Campaign declared a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, as a result of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced into state houses that year, over 80 of which were signed into law—more than in any other year.

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.