Remembering Tiffany Banks, a “sociable and beautiful butterfly”

by Jared Todd

Family and friends of Tiffany Banks, 25, remember her as a “sociable and beautiful butterfly.” Tiffany, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Miami on October 1, 2022, according to local advocates. Tiffany’s death is at least the 32nd violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022 and the fourth known killing of a Black transgender person in Florida this year, following the deaths of Semaj Billingslea, Nedra Sequence, and Duval Princess. We say “at least'' because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.

Tiffany’s loved ones say that there was “never a dull moment” when she was near, and report that she sang constantly and loved to dance. A vigil was held in her honor on October 12, and a celebration of life was held on October 15.

Tiffany had so much more to give to the world and her death is an incredible loss. It is clear how deeply she was loved by her community and we will continue to grieve alongside them. Transgender people deserve to live our lives without fear of violence. The lack of available details and underreporting of Tiffany’s death is troubling, and we will continue to fight for justice for Tiffany."

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

Jasmine Mckenzie, Executive Director of the McKenzie Project, told Equality Florida: “The absence of Tiffany is like the sky, it will spread all over all day and night.”

According to the blog Pgh Lesbian Correspondents, police arrested a man tied to Tiffany’s murder on October 5, 2022, and charged him with murder in the 2nd degree with a weapon. However, very little information has been shared by the police or local press on the details of the case. HRC and advocates continue to demand justice and transparency.

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Tiffany was misgendered in many reports about her death. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media and/or by law enforcement. 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.

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 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 340 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, more than 145 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.

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 CountMeIn 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.