Trans Woman Killed in New Orleans, Police Considering Hate Crime

Goddess Diamond

While much of the world was focused on the attacks at Pulse nightclub this weekend, the murder of another trans woman of color was reported. 

The 20-year-old woman, whose first name is unknown and who has become known on social media as “Goddess” Diamond — was found in a torched car in New Orleans' east side June 5. According to the medical examiner, Diamond died of a blunt force trauma, before the car was burned. 

She is the 14th trans person known to have been murdered so far this year in the United States.

Media attention to Diamond's death has been slow to evolve because the first outlet to cover her murder, The New Orleans Advocate (no relation to this publication), misgendered her and used her birth name, and her death wasn't reported until four days after she was found. 

Venus Selente, a black trans woman writer, was the first to call attention to Diamond having been transgender, and who gave her the name "Goddess" so she wouldn’t have to be remembered with her birth name.

According to Dawn Massey, senior public information officer for the New Orleans Police Department, Diamond's death is being investigated as a homicide and arson. Massey told The Advocate that while police do not yet have any indication that Diamond's murder was motivated by her gender identity, they are working with the FBI to determine whether this is a hate crime. Investigators have not made any arrests in the case.

According to that initial report by The New Orleans Advocate, Diamond was originally from New Orleans but had only returned to the city in the last year after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Diamond's mother, Antoinette, told the New Orleans publication that Diamond hadn’t been heard from since borrowing a car from a friend that evening to go to a party. Antoinette called her child "kind and loving" and said she "had a big heart."

Diamond worked a retail job at Walmart. A coworker there, George Melichar, spoke fondly of Diamond, calling her “very loved” and “very kind.” 

“And that's what makes this more difficult,” he said. “In addition to losing a friend, we lost an LGBT leader.”

Trans women of color face incredible levels of homicide in the U.S., and the number of trans women of color murdered has risen every year for the last several years. By comparison, 21 trans women were reported murdered in all of 2015, and 14 were reported in 2013. 

More than half of anti-LGBT hate murders are trans woman of color, specifically black trans women, and the overall rate of anti-trans hate crimes rose by 13 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to the most recent statistics from the FBI.

It is believed that many more trans women of color are murdered each year than are reported in the media, though, as many police departments and media outlets fail to identify victims as transgender.

Read about the transgender people murdered so far in 2016 here.

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