Compiled by the Human Rights Campaign
In 2018, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were transgender women of color. 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 transgender victim’s 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 and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.
HRC Foundation’s report, “Dismantling a Culture of Violence,”* 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 people.
Sadly, by the summer of 2019 at least 11 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means. The Human Rights Campaign continues to work toward justice and equality for transgender people. Here is a list of those who have been killed in the first half of this year:
- Dana Martin, 31, a black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Reports stated that she was found in a roadside ditch in her vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
- Jazzaline Ware, 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.
- Ashanti Carmon, 27, a black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on March 30. Few details are yet known about the crime, and the investigation is ongoing.
- Claire Legato, 21, a black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Local media reports that Legato was shot in the head after an argument broke out between her mother and the suspect. She was taken to a nearby hospital and died from her injuries on May 14.
- Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Local media reported that Booker was found dead, lying facedown with a gunshot wound near a golf course in east Dallas. In April, Booker was viciously attacked in what Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings described as “mob violence.”
- Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Police responded to reports of shots fired in North Philadelphia’s Franklinville neighborhood, according to the Philadelphia Gay News. Washington, who was also known by the name Tamika, was found with several gunshot wounds and transported to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
- 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. The Dallas Police Department has reached out to federal law enforcement to aid in the investigation.
- Chanel Scurlock, 23, a black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. Few details are yet public about the crime, but police told a local news outlet they have “great leads” in their investigation.
- Zoe Spears, 23, a black transgender woman, was found lying in the street with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. While officials have not yet released her name, transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, identified Spears as the victim.
- Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a black transgender woman, was found dead on the front porch of an abandoned home in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. The Kansas City Star notes that her death is currently being investigated as a homicide.
Additionally, HRC is deeply concerned about the deaths of Johana “Joa” Medina and Layleen Polanco, whose stories it continues to closely follow. 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. Her exact cause of death is not yet known. Polanco was found dead in a cell at Riker’s Island on June 7. Her exact cause of death is also as of yet unknown.
*To read HRC Foundation’s “Dismantling a Culture of Violence” report go to https://www.hrc.org/resources/a-national-epidemic-fatal-anti-transgender-violence-in-america-in-2018.