Since 2013, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. HRC works to shed light on this epidemic of violence in order to ensure victims’ lives are remembered with dignity, and to work to end the stigma that so many trans and gender non-conforming people face. HRC confirms these cases working with local advocates, the media and sometimes law enforcement. In doing this work, there are some cases that surface that are unclear -- where victims may have died by other means than violent acts by another individual. In these cases, HRC works to monitor developments closely and calls for further investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding their deaths.
HRC is currently monitoring the deaths of the transgender and gender non-conforming people listed below. This post will be updated as we receive additional information. These victims, like all of us, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members. They worked, went to school and attended houses of worship. We mourn their loss.
DeeDee Thomas, a 42-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in New York City on June 6, 2021. The investigation into her death is ongoing. According to reports, although foul play is suspected, an autopsy is pending and her death has not yet been ruled a homicide. Some members of her family believe DeeDee may have been experiencing domestic violence. DeeDee’s family described her as “happy,” “beautiful” and a “sweet soul.” They also shared that she enjoyed telling stories, dancing, singing and doing hair and makeup. On June 25, they held a memorial service to remember her.
Haven A. Bailey
Haven A. Bailey, a 25-year-old white transgender man, was shot and killed by Villa Park police on May 24, 2021 in Villa Park, Illinois. The investigation into his death is ongoing. According to local news reports, early on May 24, police shot an individual who appeared to be holding a gun and who was approaching police. According to police, a black pellet gun made to look like a real gun was recovered from the scene. Haven’s family shared that he had struggled with mental illness, addiction and suicidality. According to his obituary, “Haven was a dedicated, caring, and open friend, whose advice [was] a treasured comfort to many. Haven could light up any room, bring a smile to your face and make you laugh. As a friend, you would always know Haven loved you for who you are, without any judgment or criticism.”
Brianna Maritza Marquez
Brianna Maritza Marquez, a 26-year-old Latina transgender woman, was found/pronounced dead on April 5, 2021. Brianna was from Houston. She had been missing for some time.
Krys Brandon Ruiz
Krys Brandon Ruiz, a 26-year-old transgender man, was shot and killed by Lompoc police on March 28, 2021 in Lompoc, California. The investigation into his death by the Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is ongoing. Krys’ family’s attorney has also asked the California state attorney general to investigate his death, calling on a new law that requires the state attorney general to investigate incidents of unarmed people shot by police. The Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is alleging that Krys had a knife at the time was shot. His obituary states that Krys loved music and that “he will be remembered through the many musical recordings he left behind.” The obituary goes on to say, “Krys was blessed in life with good, solid friendships over the years… Krys’ smile lit up any room; it was very captivating. He was known for his ever-changing hair color… Krys loved having a big family.”
Aidelen Evans has been added to HRC's list of fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in 2021. Additional information is available here.
Kim Wirtz, a 43-year-old Asian transgender woman, was found unconscious on February 25, 2021 in a single jail cell at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. Kim was housed with men, a situation that transgender women in the criminal justice system often face. Maryland’s Department of Safety and Correctional Services does not believe foul play was involved, but Kim’s family has not received information about the circumstances surrounding her death, and a cause of death has not yet been released. Baltimore Safe Haven, a local LGBTQ+ organization, has started a petition calling for justice for Kim, and also hosted a vigil on March 5. Kim’s niece remembered her as “resilient,” saying, “She was a very strong person. She tried to find her place in this world.”
Alex VanDalsen was a 21-year-old transgender man from Lafayette, Indiana. On February 3, 2021, VanDalsen left his family home and failed to return. He was found shot dead on February 9, 2021. Although VanDalsen's death was ruled a suicide, members of his family believe he was killed. His family continues to seek answers regarding the circumstances of his death.
Natasha Keianna, a 37-year-old Black transgender woman, was reported missing on January 6, 2021. She was later found dead in her car on January 12 in Detroit, Michigan. Although the Detroit Police Department did not find signs of trauma or foul play, Natasha’s mother believes that she was targeted because she was transgender. An autopsy was requested, but no official cause of death has been announced. A friend of Natasha’s remembered her as a “sweet girl,” saying, “You knew her by the way that she dressed. She always had a nice heel on. She liked tall heels. But she didn’t try to flaunt it.”
Bonaire “Bonni” Black
Bonaire “Bonni” Black, a 19-year-old Black transgender teen, was found dead on December 31, 2020 in Atlanta. Although police believe her death was due to natural causes, friends and local advocates have disputed that account. Autopsy and toxicology reports have not been released, and neither has an official cause of death. On January 21, friends and advocates gathered to remember Bonni, describing her as “an artist, songwriter and rapper.” One advocate said of Bonni, “She loved doing her makeup and going out into the world making sure she looked her best.”
Kimberely Patricia Cope
Kimberely Patricia Cope, a 40-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in a parking lot in Athens, Georgia, on December 27, 2020. Kimberely’s friends told police that someone in a white SUV pulled up and spoke with her early in the morning of Dec. 27. Whether she got into the vehicle is unknown, but after the conversation took place, her friends did not see her again. Police say there were no signs of foul play, but they are still investigating and the autopsy report has yet to be released. Kimberely was described in her obituary as “a gifted make-up artist, a self-trained hair stylist, [who] had an eye for presentation and an extraordinary sense of style… Kim was a pet lover and animal advocate. She dreamed of the chance to work in a veterinary office or animal shelter.”
Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong
Fendi Mon’ezah Armstrong, also known as “Peaches,” was a 39-year-old Black transgender woman who was found dead of a gunshot wound at a motel near Lithonia, Georgia, on November 12, 2020. She was from Springfield, Massachusetts and lived in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to Decatur, Georgia shortly before her death. Fendi was an aspiring motivational health and beauty advisor.
Draya McCarty, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 4, 2020. An investigation is ongoing, but her death has not yet been ruled a homicide.
Tatiana Hall, a 22-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in Philadelphia on June 29, 2020. Details surrounding her death are unclear, but a coroner’s report claims it was due to drug use and was “accidental.” Tatiana’s family and friends have disputed this account, claiming she was not a drug user and that they suspect foul play. Tatiana’s close relative Mariah Hope said Tatiana was like a sister to her, and had “the prettiest smile.” Katrina Parker, another loved one, viewed Tatiana as a daughter and her “bundle of joy.” Both are seeking justice and hope Tatiana finds peace.
Koko Nia Labeija
Although Koko Nia Labeija’s body was found on June 6, 2020 in Chicago, she was not identified until early April 2021. On her Twitter profile, Koko, a 19-year-old Black transgender teen, described herself as loving the Kardashians/Jenners, as well as fashion and makeup, while her Facebook profile describes her as “a makeup artist in the making.” Her nickname was “The Beautiful.” According to PGH Lesbian, Koko attended Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School and worked at Oberweis Dairy. The school held a memorial event on April 9, and described Koko as a “vibrant soul.”
Ashley Moore, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead in Newark, New Jersey, on April 1, 2020. The Newark Police Department ruled her death a suicide, but significant questions arose about her death. At the urging of Ashley’s mother and local activists, the case was reopened by the police department in connection with the county’s Homicide Task Force. “Ashley loved people,” said her mother. Ashley worked as a chef at One World Trade Center.
Additional information about confirmed cases of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people that HRC has tracked in the last few years can be found here for 2020, and here for 2021.
The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.