Violence Against the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community in 2020
In 2019, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of at least transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women.
These victims, like all of us, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members. They worked, went to school and attended church. They were real people -- people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them.
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.
Sadly, 2020 has already seen at least five 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.
As HRC continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people, we mourn those we have lost:
- Dustin Parker, 25, was fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. His employers released a statement shortly after his death, remembering Parker as “a steadfast friend, an amazing husband and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives.”
- Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on February 24. According to Metro Puerto Rico, members of her community knew her as "humble" and "noble."
- Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho, a transgender man, shared his love for basketball and the NBA -- donning Miami Heat apparel on social media. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”
- Monika Diamond, 34, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18. Diamond was active in the Charlotte LGBTQ and nightlife community and was the co-owner of an event promotion company. She also was the co-CEO of the International Mother of the Year Pageantry System -- a pageant that honors LGBTQ mothers.
- Lexi, 33, a transgender woman, was killed in Harlem, New York on March 28. According to reports, Lexi was fatally stabbed in Harlem River Park. “I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect,” said Lavonia Brooks, a friend of Lexi. “Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted.” Brooks also noted that Lexi loved poetry, makeup and fashion.