Fatal Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2021

Sadly, 2021 has already seen at least 14 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported. In previous years, the majority of these people were Black and Latinx transgender women.

In 2020, HRC tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people. A total of 44 fatalities were tracked by HRC, marking 2020 as the most violent year on record since HRC began tracking these crimes in 2013.

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. They were real people — people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them.

As HRC continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people, we mourn those we have lost in 2021:

  • Tyianna Alexander, who was also known as Davarea Alexander, was a 28-year-old Black trans woman. Tyianna was shot to death in Chicago on January 6. On social media, friends of Tyianna posted that she had “good energy” and had “a beautiful light,” with one friend saying “I loved everything about her.” Said another friend, “this lady was nothing but life, encouragement, motivation and fun.”
  • Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, a transgender man, was killed on January 9 in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Samuel was looking forward to starting a new year. On January 1, he posted on his Facebook, “a new year to come, grateful for all the experiences who [taught] me how strong we really are, to life, to good and bad, and for all justice that is forth to come.” He also spoke out against violence in Puerto Rico, expressing his hope for a Puerto Rico without killings.
  • Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Atlanta, Ga. on January 17. On Friday, January 29, Bianca’s friends and the Trans Housing Coalition (THC) held a vigil outside of her apartment to remember her. Said THC’s Founder and Co-Director Jesse Pratt López, “Muffin was just blossoming into herself.”
  • Dominique Jackson, a Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Jackson, Miss. on January 25. According to her Facebook, Dominique was the Mother of the Haus of Redd, and the Founder of The Ladi Redd Inc. Friends are remembering her on social media, with one saying “my heart is heavy,” and another sharing “I’m at a loss for words.”
  • Fifty Bandz, a 21-year-old Black transgender woman,was shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 28. Friends of Fifty Bandz and advocates said her name as they released balloons to remember her life. On Facebook, one friend shared, “When are we as a community going to do something?!”
  • Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, a 45-year-old Black trans woman, was killed on Feb. 4 in Miami. Braxton was a hairstylist and active on social media, posting regularly. One of her most recent posts said “they can’t stop my shine.” Family and friends held a balloon release to honor Alexus’s life on February 8 and have been remembering her on social media, with one saying “I’m beyond devastated.”
  • Chyna Carrillo, who also went by Chyna Cardenas, was killed in the morning hours of February 18, 2021, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Not much is known at the time about Chyna’s personal life. One of her social media posts suggested she would have celebrated her 25th birthday just weeks before her death. “Chyna was very young and did not deserve to have her life cut short,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper.
  • Siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, a 16-year-old trans boy, and Jasmine Cannady, a 22-year-old non-binary person, both from Ambridge, Pennsylvania, were killed on February 22. Jeffrey was a student at Ambridge High School, while Jasmine worked at FedEx, according to their Facebook page. Both siblings were active in PRISM, a non-profit organization for the LGBTQ+ youth of Beaver County, Pa. “JJ is a part of our PRISM family,” PRISM shared on their Facebook. “JJ was a beautiful person with the biggest and brightest smile.” PRISM describes Jasmine as “a sweet, shy and artistic soul,” and according to the Transfamily of NWPA, Jasmine “loved to dance. They cared deeply for their friends.” On February 23, PRISM held a candlelight vigil in memory of Jasmine and Jeffrey.
  • Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman, was killed in Jacksonville, North Carolina in February. Jenna was a part of the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center family. She was remembered on Facebook by friends and family as “sweet” and “a rock star.” Dennis Biancuzzo, Executive Director for the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center, described Jenna as “a beautiful soul” and “a breath of fresh air.”
  • Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 3. Diamond was described by a family member on social media as “beloved.” An obituary shared by her family describes many loving memories. “She valued her family and enjoyed spending time with them. As a child, she would say “I love my WHOLE family!,” the obituary states. In her adult life, Diamond was a traveler, known to be in New York City one week and New Orleans the following week, also according to her obituary.
  • Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latina trans woman, was killed on March 17 in Los Angeles. A former colleague of Rayanna’s from Starbucks shared that as co-workers, they had an “amazing time together.” According to The Advocate, the TransLatin@ Coalition and Rayanna’s friends and family held a candlelight vigil in her memory on March 20. “Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself,” said Trans Latin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo.
  • Jaida Peterson, a 29-year-old Black trans woman, was killed on April 4 in Charlotte, N.C. Jaida’s family and friends have been remembering her on social media, with her sister sharing, “you are going to be truly missed and once again we love you always.” Local advocates in Charlotte held a vigil on April 9 to remember her.

  • Dominique Lucious, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on April 8 in Springfield, Missouri. According to her Facebook account, Dominique was a fan of the TV show “Empire.” On social media, many of Dominique’s friends expressed their love for her and how much she will be missed. One friend shared “Many don’t get to live in their authentic truth. You were fierce, glam, and hunny gorgeous! I love you now, tomorrow and forever.”

These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners or strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified. Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work.

While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color -- particularly Black transgender women -- and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities.

HRC Foundation’s “Dismantling a Culture of Violence” report demonstrates how anti-transgender stigma, denial of opportunity and increased risk factors compound to create a culture of violence -- and provides clear ways that each of us can directly make an impact to make our society a safer place for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

As is too often the case in the reporting of anti-transgender violence, many of these victims are misgendered in local police statements and media reports, which can delay our awareness of deadly incidents. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect for transgender and gender non-conforming people in both life and death, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on these communities.

HRC has been tracking reports of fatal anti-transgender violence for the past several years. Previous reports can be found: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.