Remembering Tee "Lagend Billons" Arnold, Black Trans Man Killed in Florida

by Jarred Keller

Tee "Lagend Billons" Arnold, a 36-year-old Black trans man from Florida, was a role model for his nieces and nephews, frequent traveler and support system to family and friends. In an emotional Facebook post from one of Tee’s loved ones, CeCe Gates, they thank him for “always answering the phone when I was lost, for never being afraid to tell me when I'm wrong, telling me to pray when I was weak, always offering words of encouragement.”

Sadly, on April 3, 2024 in Hallandale Beach, Florida, Tee was shot on the 800 block of Silks Run near a popular bowling alley. According to reports, police responded at 1:30AM to reports of a shooting where they found Tee alive but in critical condition. Although details on the shooting itself are still vague, Tee was rushed to the hospital where he unfortunately died four days later. The shooter remains at large, but the police are currently searching for a female suspect that allegedly knew Tee. In a Facebook post earlier this month, Tee noted there was a price on his head, indicating that he knew someone was threatening his life and possibly wanted him dead.

It breaks my heart to see someone’s life cut short due to senseless violence. Tee was a brother, an uncle and a friend who will be missed greatly by those whose lives he touched. The trans community continues to face fatal gun violence not only from strangers, but in most cases from those that were supposed to love and care about them. It’s our duty as members of the TLGBQ+ community to protect our trans brothers and sisters by pushing back against lawmakers who create overly lenient gun laws that leave everyone less safe. My hope is that in Tee’s death, we rally to protect other members of the trans community from facing such a tragic ending."

Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Trans Justice Initiative Director

Tee is at least the seventh transgender or gender-expansive person to lose their life to fatal violence in 2024, and the fourth to lose their life in the last month alone. He is at least the third transgender man killed in 2024, with trans men now accounting for more than four in ten (43%) of victims identified this year. We say “at least '' because, far too often, these deaths are underreported or misreported.

Tee is the first trans or gender-expansive person to be killed in Florida this year. However, he is at least the 32nd trans or gender-expansive person killed in the state since HRC began tracking fatal violence in 2013, making Florida home to the second highest number of fatal violence cases out of all states. As of this writing, almost one in ten of all victims identified in the last eleven years were killed in Florida.

More than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to almost 69 cases a day, 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.”

Gun violence far too often impacts the transgender and gender-expansive community–both in Florida, and nationwide. Since HRC began tracking fatal violence against the trans community in 2013, more than 70% of fatal violence victims– a total of 245 lives–were killed by firearms. More than three quarters (78.1%) of fatal violence victims in Florida since 2013 were killed by guns, including 85% of all Black trans victims. In recent years, Florida has been dealing with their own gun crisis, with gun homicide deaths increasing by 24% over the last decade, as reported by Everytown for Gun Safety; Black people in Florida are 7 times more likely to die by gun homicide than white Floridians.

Florida includes sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law, but does not include gender identity. 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. 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, almost 430 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced into state houses since the beginning of 2024.

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-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