Transgender Day of Remembrance was started in 1999 by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence since Rita Hester’s death, and began an important tradition that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
In 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the US 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, and/or survival sex work.
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, guidelines exist for journalists and others who report on transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Sadly, 2019 has already seen at least 22 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 we as a community continue to work toward justice and equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people, we mourn those we have lost this year:
Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama in January.
Jazzaline Ware, 34, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in her Memphis apartment in March. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.
Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George’s County, Maryland in March.
Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland, Ohio, in April.
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas, Texas, in May.
Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in May.
Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit, Michigan in May.
Chynal Lindsay, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas with signs of “homicidal violence” in June.
Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina in June.
Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead in June.
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, in June.
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina in July.
Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston, Texas in July.
Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July, after having been reported missing.
Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami, Florida, in July.
Jordan Cofer, 22, a white transgender man was among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in August.
Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina in August.
Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland in September.
Bee Love Slater, 23, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Clewiston, Florida in September.
Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas in September.
Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found shot in Houston, Texas in September.
Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Kansas City, the third transgender or gender non-conforming person killed in Kansas City this year, in October.
Johana “Joa” Medina, 25, a transgender woman from El Salvador, died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, after being refused medical treatment while in ICE detention, awaiting her appeal that being returned to El Salvador would put her in grave danger.
Layleen Polanco, 27, a Black transgender woman, who was discovered dead after suffering a seizure that went unnoticed while she was in solitary confinement at Riker’s Island in New York.