Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019
In 2018, 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 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 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, 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, barriers that make them vulnerable. 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 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 expansive people in both life and death, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Sadly, 2019 has already seen at least 25 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:
- Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, an Alabama-based trans advocate, said that “she was a person that was loved by many.”
- Ellie Marie Washtock, 38, a gender non-conforming person, was fatally shot in St. Augustine, Florida, on January 31. Washtock was a parent to two children. Loved ones noted the death on a memorial website: “My heart was torn 1-31-2019 when I heard you were taken. You are loved forever.”
- Jazzaline Ware, 34, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in her Memphis apartment in March. Her death is being investigated as a homicide, according to The Advocate. “Our community in Memphis is mourning the death of Jazzaline Ware, a Black trans woman and beloved friend,” said the Transgender Law Center in a press release. Further details are unknown as of May 31, 2019.
- Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George's County, Maryland, on March 30. “Until I leave this Earth, I’m going to continue on loving her in my heart, body, and soul,” said Philip Williams, Carmon’s fiancé. “She did not deserve to leave this Earth so early, especially in the way that she went out.
- Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Friends and family took to social media to mourn Legato’s death, remembering her as someone who was “full of life.”
- Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Friends, family and advocates across the country took to social media to mourn Booker, sharing their shock and disbelief. “Such a beautiful spirit taken too soon,” wrote one person. “She lived her life and loved all of who she was.”
- Michelle 'Tamika' Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Washington, who was also known by the name Tameka, is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
- Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti-LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit on May 25, according to local reports. Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men, were found dead at the scene and Cameron was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two other victims were also shot but survived. “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community, including transgender women of color," Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
- Chynal Lindsey, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake, Dallas, with signs of “homicidal violence” on June 1, according to police. Friends, family and community members took to social media to share their shock at her death, describing her as “smiling” and “a person I had never seen mad.”
- Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. “RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
- Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. “She was my daughter -- very bright and very full of life,” transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
- Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. “I love you, Brooklyn Lindsey,” wrote a friend on Twitter. “I shall live on for you. Rest in power, sista.”
- Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 20. “I lost my best friend, first cousin,” wrote a family member on Facebook. “We were more than cousin. We were like brother and sisters. I love you so much, Pooh.”
- Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston on July 30. “Rest in power and peace Tracy,” wrote Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender advocate. “You were taken away from us way too soon.”
- Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July. Walker was reported missing on July 26. She is remembered by friends and family as “one of those people who was really fun to be around. She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
- Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami on July 31. Fantroy’s mother remembered her as having “a heart of gold” and being “a very loving person.” She also pleaded for justice for her daughter, saying, “My baby, my baby. Please help bring justice to my baby.”
- Jordan Cofer, 22, was among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4. While Cofer was only out to a handful of close friends and used the pronouns he/him/his on his social media profiles, he is remembered by friends as “extremely bright” and “well-liked.” A friend told Splinter News that “Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
- Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina, on August 4. Doe’s friends and family remembered her as having a “bright personality,” and being someone who “showed love” and who was “the best to be around.”
- Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2. She is remembered as "a person who lived her life to the fullest."
- Bee Love Slater, 23, was killed in Clewiston, Florida, on September 4. Slater is remembered by loved ones as someone "with a really, really sweet heart" who "never harmed anyone."
- Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 13. Local activists and community members joined family and friends at a vigil and took to social media to mourn Berryman’s loss.
- Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman was found shot in Houston on September 20. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, as reported by Monica Roberts of TransGriot. "You deserved to live a full and robust life surrounded by people who embraced and celebrated your real self," wrote Sue Kerr, an LGBTQ columnist.
- Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, was fatally shot in Kansas City on October 14. Kansas City Police Capt. Tim Hernandez told local press that the alleged shooter remained at the scene until they arrived. She was a beloved member of her community, a fan of the Kansas City football team and loved spreading joy by sharing funny videos on her Facebook page.
- Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was killed in Vancouver, Washington, some time after her disappearance in June. Kuhnhausen enjoyed sharing videos of her dancing and singing on her Facebook, and she often posted memes to entertain her friends. Her loved ones have taken to social media to mourn her passing. “[Y]ou my dear didn’t deserve this ... rest with God now.”
- Yahira Nesby, 33, was fatally shot in New York on December 19. Nesby, a Black transgender woman, was a loved member of the New York ball scene. Her friends and family commented on social media about her death, calling Nesby “a good spirit,” “genuinely good people,” and said “Every time [Nesby was] around [she] put a smile on my face and others.”
Additionally, HRC is deeply concerned about the deaths of Johana 'Joa' Medina and Layleen Polanco, whose stories we are following closely:
- Johana 'Joa' Medina, 25, died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas just hours after being released from ICE custody. She suffered severe health complications that went untreated while she was in detention, according to Diversidad Sin Fronteras. According to OJ Pitaya, an advocate with the group, Medina dreamed of coming to the U.S. to become certified as a nurse, since she was unable to practice as a transgender woman in her home country.
- Layleen Polanco, 27, was found dead in a cell at Riker's Island on June 7. Polanco was described by those who knew her as “a sweet, amazing [...] and generous human being.”