Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2017
In 2016, advocates tracked at least 23 deaths of transgender people in the United States due to fatal violence, the most ever recorded for that year. These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners and 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 homelessness.
While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.
Sadly, 2017 has already seen at least 29 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. As HRC continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender people, we mourn those we have lost:
- Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black transgender woman from Canton, Mississippi, was found shot to death the evening of January 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
- Sean Hake, 23, a transgender man in Sharon, Pennsylvania, died after he was shot by police responding to a 911 call from his mother. A friend told WKBN that Sean "had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems."
- Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A suspect, 25-year-old Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
- JoJo Striker, 23, a transgender woman, was found killed in Toledo, Ohio, on February 8. Striker’s mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said her family loved her deeply.
- Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, was fatally shot in Chicago on the morning of February 21. A transgender woman of color, she was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women that were killed in 2012.
- Chyna Gibson, 31, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in New Orleans on February 25. Chyna was a much-loved performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death.
- Ciara McElveen, 26, a transgender woman of color, was stabbed to death in New Orleans on February 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. As of February 28, 2017, HRC has tracked at least nine murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013.
- Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot to death in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 19. One friend, Chesna Littleberry, told Mic that Holland was “like a younger sister” and had helped her learn to accept herself.
- Akihs Gaius Green ***, 42, a Black transgender man, was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., in March and died from his wounds on July 21, 2017.
- Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 22. Watson’s mother said her daughter was “the sunshine of our family,” a “caring, passionate” person who loved cooking and gardening.
- Chay Reed, 28, a transgender woman of color, was shot and killed on April 21 in Miami. Reed’s longtime friend told Mic about their longtime friendship -- describing her as someone who was full of life and beloved by many.
- Kenneth Bostick, 59, was found with severe injuries on a Manhattan sidewalk, he later died of his injuries. Few details about Bostick’s life have been reported, he is believed to have been homeless at the time he was attacked.*
- Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color died on May 16, of injuries sustained during an attack on November 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police are treating the assault as a homicide. No arrests have been made at this point.
- Kenne McFadden, 27, was found in the San Antonio River on April 9. Police believe she was pushed into the river, which runs through downtown San Antonio. A high-school friend of McFadden described her to local media as assertive, charismatic and lovable. On January 25, 2018, a 19-year-old man was charged with her murder.
- Kendra Marie Adams, 28, was found in a building that was under construction and had burns on her body on June 13. Police have charged Michael Davis, 45, with Adams’ murder. Adams also went by Josie Berrios, the name used in initial media reports on her death.
- Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17, was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia on June 25 during an altercation in an apartment parking lot. In an online obituary, friends remembered Barrin as a "social butterfly" and an "amazing girl" who "loved to make people laugh."
- Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot multiple times in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early morning of July 2. Morgan was transferred to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Authorities have named Kenneth Allen Kelly Jr. as a person of interest in the case.
- TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed on July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the Georgia Voice, Dangerfield “was found with multiple gunshot wounds outside of her vehicle at the South Hampton Estates apartment complex."
- Jaylow McGlory**, 29, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Alexandria, Louisiana on August 4. According to media reports, a 20-year-old man was later charged with her murder.
- Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot and killed in Waxahachie, Texas, on August 12. According to their Facebook profile, they identified as “femandrogyne” and a member of the bisexual community.
- Kiwi Herring, 30, was killed during an altercation with police on August 22 during an altercation with her neighbor. Relatives told Huffpost the neighbor was transphobic and that excessive force by police led to her death.
- Kashmire Nazier Redd, 28, was fatally stabbed by his partner on September 5. A friend wrote on Facebook “[Kashmire] loved hard and just wanted to be loved and [accepted].”
- Derricka Banner, 26, was found shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 12. Friends describe Banner as a "playful spirit" and "go-getter" who enjoyed life.
- Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police on September 16. The GT Progressive Student Alliance, a progressive student advocacy group on campus, called Schultz an “incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights.”
- Ally Steinfeld, 17, was stabbed to death in Missouri in early September. On April 3, 2018, the Texas County prosecutor charged Andrew Vrba, 18, with first-degree murder. Two other women, Briana Calderas, 24, and Isis Schauer, 18, were also charged with Steinfeld's murder. Steinfeld’s family said Ally “sometimes” identified as female on social media.
- Stephanie Montez, 47, was brutally murdered near Robstown, Texas. Montez’s longtime friend, Brittany Ramirez, described her as “one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet."
- Candace Towns, 30, a transgender woman who was found shot to death in Georgia. Town's friend, Malaysa Monroe, remembers Towns’ generosity. “If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Monroe said.
- Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31, a Black transgender woman who was found murdered in a motel room in Oklahoma City on November 27. Family describe Stevenson as "an amazing daughter, sister and friend with a giving and loving heart."
- Brandi Seals, 26, a Black transgender woman who was found shot to death in a Houston neighborhood on December 13. Her family described her as a “loving person” and a “beautiful person.”
- Rhiannon Layendecker, 51, was shot and killed by her wife, Jessica Winkler, after a domestic dispute in their home on December 16 in Englewood, Florida. Both women are transgender. According to neighbors, Layendecker was “fun,” “loving,” and someone who “would do anything for you.”
In November of 2017, the HRC Foundation and the Trans People of Color Coalition released a report detailing this epidemic of anti-transgender violence over the past five years. To learn how you can help to combat anti-transgender violence and discrimination, please follow this link.
*Conflicting media reports initially led to uncertainty about Bostick's gender identity, but interviews based on those who knew him have since confirmed that he identified as a transgender man.
**McGlory's identity as a transgender woman was not publicly confirmed until several months after her tragic death.
***Unfortunately, due to conflicting reports, HRC was delayed in our awareness of his tragic death.