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Transgender Teen Killed in Georgia; 14th Trans Murder Victim of 2017

Ava Le'Ray Barrin
Ava Le'Ray Barrin

Ava Le'Ray Barrin was fatally shot Sunday in Athens, Ga.

Ava Le'Ray Barrin, 17, of Athens, Ga., has become the 14th transgender homicide victim of 2017, and she is also the youngest. All have been transgender women of color.

Barrin was shot during an altercation in her apartment complex's parking lot Sunday morning and died shortly thereafter at a local hospital, TransGriot reports. Jalen Breon Brown, 21, who reportedly knew Barrin, has been charged with murder and aggravated assault and is being held in Athens-Clarke County Jail, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Brown, who claimed self-defense, also is a transgender woman; both she and Barrin were misgendered by Georgia newspapers.

"Like too many transgender victims of violence, Barrin's name and gender were misreported by local law enforcement and media outlets," said a statement released by the Human Rights Campaign. "Announcements that fail to respect transgender victims' identities not only upset the victims' loved ones, but may lead to additional violence by creating the perception that law enforcement will not protect transgender people or pursue their attackers."

An obituary on Bazaar Daily, a U.K. site, called Barrin "a girl who loved to make people laugh" and "unapologetically real." She "will be remembered as a person who wanted nothing more than to have fun in life," the obit read. On the same site, a friend said she will dedicate her appearance at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City in September to Barrin. She asked supporters to wear T-shirts bearing Barrin's name, and she invited Barrin's mother to appear with her.

This month has also brought the news of the homicides of two other trans women of color. Kenne McFadden, 26, of San Antonio, Texas, was found dead in the San Antonio River April 9; police initially said there were no signs of trauma to her body, but in June they classified her death as a homicide, the San Antonio Express-News reports. McFadden, who was misgendered in the first accounts of her death, worked at a restaurant in the Riverwalk, a popular San Antonio entertainment area, and was in the process of transitioning. Friends said she was outgoing and loved to sing; she also wrote poetry.

A "person of interest" in her death is being held on unrelated charges, police told the Express-News. The person has not been officially designated a suspect, and police have not released the individual's name.

The burned body of Josie Berrios, 28, of Ithaca, N.Y., was discovered June 13 at a construction site in the city, the Ithaca Journal reports. A can of gasoline was next to her body. Michael Davis, 45, who reportedly knew Berrios, was spotted on surveillance video, and he was arrested the same day and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson, according to the paper. He has pleaded not guilty.

Berrios performed in drag under the name Kimbrella Rose as part of the House of Merlot and was in the process of adopting the name Kendra Adams. "She would take every negative thing that people brought about her and every aspect of her personalty that could be degraded and blow it back at everyone," Colton Bready, a friend and fellow House of Merlot performer, told Mic. "That's what made her so great on the stage."

[RELATED: These Are the Trans People Killed in 2017]

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