Remembering Kita Bee, Trans Woman Killed In A Hit-and-Run

by Jose Soto

Kita Bee was described as “her authentic self through and through” by her friend of almost two decades, Kris Wade, executive director of The Justice Project, who also said that Kita was “very well loved in the streets,” meaning the local LGBTQ+ community. Kita, a 46-year-old transgender Black woman, was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 3, 2024, reports show. Her death marks the twelfth violent killing of a transgender or gender expansive person in 2024, and at least the fifth death to occur within a month, following the deaths of Starr Brown, Andrea Doria Dos Passos, River Nevaeh Goddard, and Tee “Lagend Billions” Arnold. We say “at least” because, too often, these deaths go unreported — or misreported. The Human Rights Campaign is deeply saddened to report on Kita’s passing.

Through the work she did with The Justice Project and other local organizations, Wade got to know Kita personally and said that Kita had endured difficult situations, including experiencing housing instability, being brutally attacked, and having navigated systems that weren’t built to serve her.

In a news report, Kita’s sister Raynisha shared that she was “very bold in her personality” and loved Mary J. Blige. She also shared that Kita was “an all-around entertainer. “She loved to sing, dance, perform to make you happy, smile, or laugh.” According to multiple social media posts, including those posted by Transformations, a community-based organization supporting trans communities of color and trans youth in the Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri regions, Kita assumed a significant role as a mentor to fellow trans women from the local community, teaching many of them survival and safety measures. Transformations also shared a video asking for financial support to help Kita's family, loved ones and community host a funeral service in Kita's memory as well as seeing her wishes through of being cremated and having her ashes scattered in the ocean. All donations for Kita's services can be made to the CashApp account $SheroRay.

According to the Kansas City Police Department, who responded to reports of a crash involving a pedestrian at around 9:20 p.m., Kita was traveling west on Independence Avenue in East Kansas City near the Independence Plaza neighborhood when the driver of a silver Chevrolet Silverado reportedly hit Bee and fled the scene. A second car hit her shortly after and also fled the scene, though authorities have identified this driver and are considering charges; as of this writing, police have not yet identified or located the driver of the Silverado who initially struck her. During a news interview, Wade said that Kita’s death and the means of her death were “very traumatizing” for the local LGBTQ+ community.

Our trans communities of color continue to bear the brunt of anti-LGBTQ+ violence and policy. We repeatedly hear about tragic deaths of trans people, particularly Black and Brown trans women. We can’t undermine or disregard every way that the lives of members of our trans family are so violently taken. Like all trans people, Kita deserved to live a long and fulfilling life in safe and affirming environments. We need to address and combat all forms of violence against our community.”

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

After misgendering Kita in their initial communications about the incident, the Kansas City Police Department has classified Kita’s death as a pedestrian fatality hit-and-run accident and have plans to reconstruct the accident as part of an ongoing investigation, according to KCPD Spokesperson Officer Alayna Gonzalez.

As stated above, and in an injustice compounding this tragedy, Kita Bee was misgendered in some media and police reports, something that occurs all too frequently: approximately two-thirds of all known transgender and gender-expansive victims of fatal violence HRC has identified since tracking began in 2013 were initially misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. 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.

Structural factors, such as anti-LGTBQ+ legislation and rhetoric, can lead to violence against members of our community. In Missouri, transgender and gender-expansive people in Missouri are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public spaces, thoughMissouri does include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. . 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. As of this writing, over 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced into state houses since the beginning of 2024, with 22 bills passing to-date.

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-expansive 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.