Sadly, 2022 has already seen at least 31 transgender 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 2021, the Human Rights Campaign tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people — with 50 fatalities tracked.
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 2022:
Semaj Billingslea, a 33-year-old trans man, graduated from Florida Youth Academy before attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. He was a fan of Megan Thee Stallion and cared deeply about his friends. On September 21, Semaj was killed in Jacksonville, Florida.
Acey Morrison, a 30-year-old Two-Spirit person, was a ”kindhearted, down to earth, joyous, respectful, and loving soul” who was a “helpful and giving person who was always there for her family and friends.” She was shot dead in Rapid City, South Dakota on August 21.
Two-Spirit people are indigenous North Americans who possess both a feminine and masculine spirit.
Mya Allen, who was also known as Regina Allen, was a 35-year-old Black transgender woman who was full of joy and laughter. Mya was active on social media, often posting selfies of her beautiful outfits and makeup. She was also a member of Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity (SHEBA), a local advocacy, empowerment and support group for Black transgender women. Mya was killed on August 29 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Dede Ricks, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Detroit on August 27th, 2022. Just before 3:40 a.m., Dede was found dead in her home in Detroit with gunshot wounds. A suspect has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and felony firearm, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office.
Maddie Hofmann, a 47-year-old trans woman born in Korea and raised in the U.S. by their adoptive family, was killed by police in Malvern, Pennsylvania on May 19, 2022. According to a GoFundMe organized by a family friend, Maddie was one of six siblings. They had a deep bond with their younger sister, Emily, who was also adopted from Korea.
At barely 26-years-old, Aaron Lynch, a trans man, was shot and killed by police in McLean, Virginia on July 7, 2022. Aaron, who was experiencing a mental health crisis, was first unsuccessfully tased by police after some back-and-forth discourse, resulting in one of the police officers shooting him four times. Police officers had originally responded to a 911 call to Aaron’s house with a trained mental health co-respondent and returned a second time without one after not initially finding Aaron on the premises.
Kandii Reed, who also went by Kamila Marie Swann and Dee Dee, was killed in Kansas City on July 24, 2022. Information on her personal life is scarce, although we know enough to say that the 29-year-old Black trans woman was a model and a performer who was doubtlessly loved and appreciated by those closest to her.
Hayden Davis’ interests were wide-ranging, from fashion and the Kardashians to skincare and makeup. Her smile was bright and she had an active presence on social media. The 28-year-old Black trans woman was shot and killed in Detroit on July 25, 2022.
Marisela Castro was planning a birthday party celebration with friends and family. Tragically, on July 29 the eve of her birthday, Marisela was shot and killed in the Northshore neighborhood Houston, Texas. According to her friend Jorge Luis Lizardo, as quoted in the Houston Chronicle, she was a “bright” and “sunny” person who had never made enemies
Cherry Bush lived in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, where she was experiencing homelessness. At 48-years-old, Bush was shot and killed on July 5, 2022. On social media, her brother called her his “oldest friend.”
Keshia Chanel Geter, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was traveling with a friend when she was fatally shot in Augusta, Georgia on July 20, 2022, outside a motel. Initial reports from local media misgendered Keshia. “Keshia Chanel Geter lived her truth as a Black transgender woman, said Tori Cooper, HRC’s Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. “She should still be alive today to embrace those she loved and continue living a bright and full life.”
On social media, beloved tributes were pouring in for Martasia Richmond, a Black transgender woman killed in Chicago on July 11, 2022 and pronounced dead early on the morning of July 12, 2022. Of her passing, HRC's Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper said "at 30 years old, she should have decades ahead of her to spend with those she loved. Her death was not only unjust but part of an alarming trend of anti-transgender violence in Chicago and in this country at-large."
Shawmaynè Giselle Marie, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was born and raised in Gulfport and attended Gulfport High School. She worked as a personal care assistant and as a certified nursing assistant for almost four years. She was shot and killed in Gulfport, Mississippi on June 21, 2022. On social media, her family and friends remembered her as a “loving, funny, kind and genuine person.”
Brazil Johnson, a Black trans woman, was a passionate LGBTQ+ activist, a beloved daughter and a talented chef. In an interview with CBS58 News, the mother of Brazil Johnson, Bernita Gildart, said her daughter was a passionate chef and that the kitchen was like a haven for her. Johnson was killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 15, 2022.
Sasha Mason, a 45-year-old Latina transgender woman, was part of a large, loving family. She was a beloved family member and friend to many. On social media, Sasha’s friends and family remembered her as a sweet, kind and generous person with a beautiful smile who cherished her friends and family.
Chanelika Y'Ella Dior Hemingway was known for a smile as bright as her future according to news reports. She was born and raised in Guilderland, New York and was close with her mom, cousins and her niece, according to PGH Lesbian Correspondents. She graduated from Albany High School and studied at Hudson Valley Community College. She turned 30 at the beginning of May. She has just graduated from the University of Albany with a bachelor’s degree where she was the recipient of a 2022 Spellman Academic Achievement Award.
Nedra Sequence Morris, a 50-year-old Black transgender woman, was “strong, feisty, opinionated” and loved talking to her many friends on the phone. On May 14, 2022, Morris was fatally shot in Opa-locka, Florida. More than 100 people held a vigil at an intersection where Morris’ body was found. A cousin spoke at the memorial, stating “We pray, that God speaks to us, we don’t go out with a vengeance, that we know justice will be served."
Ray Muscat, who worked at a grocery store, was described by coworkers as a “kind soul who had a glowing smile.” On May 8, 2022, Muscat was shot and killed by his girlfriend in Independence Township, Michigan. According to police reporters, Muscat’s girlfriend also killed her brother and her body was found the next day; she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Fern Feather, who used both she/hers and they/them pronouns, was kind and free-spirited. The 29-year-old trans woman was known to bring joy to everyone around. Her friends remember her making others feel valued wherever she went. Fern Feather was killed in Morristown, Vermont on April 12, 2022.
Kenyatta ‘Kesha” Webster, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, March 26, 2022. She had just turned 24-years-old in February. On April 1, more than a hundred people attended the balloon release honoring Webster. There, Webster’s mother passionately called for justice for her daughter’s death. “She had plenty of love. She didn’t deserve that.”
Tatiana Labelle, a 33-year-old Black transgender woman, was a Chicago native who was loved by her friends and family. She was a fan of Mariah Carey and Patti Labelle. On March 18, 2022, Labelle was found dead in Chicago. Although details are currently unclear, her death has been ruled a homicide and detectives are continuing to investigate.
Paloma Vazquez, a Latina transgender woman living in Houston, Texas, was a member of the Organización Latina de Trans en Texas, an organization for Latina trans women based in Houston. She was fatally shot on February 22, 2022. On social media, the founder of the organization wrote, “Vuela alto Paloma y que no te alcance nunca más el odio de este mundo. Descansa en paz,” which translates to, “Fly high Paloma and may the hatred of this world never reach you again. Rest in peace.”
Matthew Angelo Spampinato, a 21-year-old white trans man, was a victim of a hit-and-run car crash in New Castle, Delaware, on Feb. 9, 2022. Spampinato worked as a barista at Starbucks and was described as bright and kind by employees. One coworker said, “He was always so selfless. He would always ask how everybody was doing even when he wasn’t having a good day himself.”
Naomie Skinner, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was described by a friend as being a “very outstanding person.” Her sister said Naomie lived a “fabulous life.” Naomie was fatally shot by her boyfriend on February 12, 2022 near Detroit in Highland Park, Michigan.
Duval Princess, she/her/hers
Duval Princess was just beginning to live as her authentic self at the time of her death. She was a well-known hairstylist and active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Jacksonville, Florida, where she was killed. Family members, friends and clients remembered her on social media days after her passing, referring to her as being “so sweet and genuine.”
Amariey Lej, she/her/hers
A young Black transgender woman, Amariey Lei graduated from Woodland Hills High School in Wilkinsburg, a borough bordering Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was a dancer and beloved coach for the Lady Diamonds, a hip-hop and majorette dance team.
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. To view these cases, visit HRC's "Additional Concerning Deaths of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals" resource page.
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 or gender non-conforming 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 violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, 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 also monitors additional cases which surface that are unclear -- where victims may have died by other means than violent acts by another individual or suspicious circumstances.