Nedra Sequence Morris, a 50-year-old Black transgender woman, was “strong, feisty, opinionated” and loved talking to her many friends on the phone. On May 14, 2022, Morris was fatally shot in Opa-locka, Florida. Morris’ death is at least the 14th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
More than 100 people held a vigil at an intersection where Morris’ body was found. A cousin spoke at the memorial, stating “We pray, that God speaks to us, we don’t go out with a vengeance, that we know justice will be served."
Several friends also remembered her on social media, with one writing “You’ve been that listening ear for a long time. You made me laugh every time we spoke.” Another wrote “Sequence this one hits hard you was a sweet and beautiful person and gona be truly missed I love you baby sleep pretty you’ve gain your wings.”
Tatiana Williams, Morris’ friend and the founder of local advocacy group Trans Inclusive, hopes her friend’s killer is found. She stated that “When these deaths happen and people that are working in the PD or in the community, they don't know how to advocate for us, so a lot of times these cases go cold."
Police are looking for a 2017 Jaguar F-PACE that left Morris’ body at the intersection of NW 32nd Avenue and NW 132nd Terrace. Those with information are urged to call Miami Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS and may remain anonymous.
More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a 2020 report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “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. According to the 2017-2022 Transgender Homicide Tracker, the vast majority of confirmed homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, with Black transgender women accounting for 73% of all transgender gun homicide victims. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups in 2019.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Florida are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Florida does not include sexual orientation and/or 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. As of this writing, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are under consideration in state legislatures across the country, nearly 150 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.