Sasha Williams, “Selfless Artist With a Heart Of Gold,” Killed in Las Vegas

by Laurel Powell

Sasha Williams, a 36-year-old multiracial transgender woman, was stabbed and killed in Las Vegas, NV. Though her death occurred on January 26, 2024, HRC has only recently learned of her passing. Sasha’s death is at least the 10th violent killing of a transgender or gender expansive person HRC has learned of in 2024. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported, as was unfortunately the case with Sasha. The Human Rights Campaign is deeply saddened to report on Sasha’s passing.

Media reports describe Sasha as a “selfless artist” who had a “heart of gold”, and as someone who had earned their GED despite struggling with her mental health. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Williams’s aunt Tina Thornton said that she dreamed of being a performer in Las Vegas.

My heart breaks for Sasha’s family, her friends, and for her community - it is clear Sasha was fighting hard to better herself against long odds. Yet again, we find ourselves mourning a life that ended far too soon."

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

Shortly after the killing, a 20-year-old man was arrested at a nearby apartment and has been charged with Sasha’s murder. Authorities have not yet shared information on a possible motive.

Tragically, Sasha is the first transgender or gender non-conforming Nevadan to lose their life to fatal violence that HRC has learned of since tracking began in 2013. However, far too many details of her case parallel trends we have seen over the last 11 years. Sasha was a trans woman of color–like three-quarters (73.5%) of all victims identified to date. She had experienced recent housing insecurity, like many victims, including Andrea Doria Dos Passos, another transgender woman killed in 2024.

At the state level, transgender and gender-expansive people in Nevada are explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. Nevada also includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics 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. 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 to that point. As of this writing, almost 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced into state houses since the beginning of 2024.

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.

  • Learn about how transgender and non-binary people are combating transphobia, stigma and anti-trans violence through our Celebrating Changemakers series.