Felycya Harris, a 33-year-old transgender woman, was found dead of a gunshot wound Saturday in a park in Augusta, Ga.
She is the 31st trans American known to have died by violence this year, most of them Black or Latinx women. The number ties the previous high recorded in 2017.
Harris’s body was found at Meadowbrook Park shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, Augusta TV stations WRDW and WAGT report. Police initially called her death suspicious, but Monday the Richmond County coroner classified it as a homicide.
Harris was a self-employed interior decorator. “She enjoyed lending her eye to improve the surroundings of others, and made others feel comfortable in their own space,” notes a Human Rights Campaign press release. “She said she could do ‘just about anything with decorating,’ which she learned from her late grandmother.”
“Everybody’s going to remember Felycya,” her friend Ricola Collier told the local TV stations. “That laugh. The smile — the smiles. The talks. The arguments. The attitudes. Everybody is going to remember who Felycya Harris is. Nobody would ever forget who that is.”
“With news of the death of Felycya Harris, we have hit a grim milestone: We have now matched the highest number of transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were victims of fatal violence in one year — and there are three more months left in the year,” HRC President Alphonso David said in the press release. “This epidemic of violence, which is particularly impacting transgender women of color, must and can be stopped. We must work to address the factors that underpin this culture of violence and openly discuss how the intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia work to deprive transgender and gender non-conforming people of equal access to opportunity and necessities like employment, housing and health care.”
“We mourn the individuals we have lost this year while remembering them for who they were: our partners, family members, friends and community members. Not one of the 31 individuals we have lost this year, or the 196 people we have lost since 2013, deserved to have their lives or their futures taken from them.”
Those figures represent only the reported deaths of people known to be transgender. There may be many more, as some trans people are misgendered by police or media (as was the case with some of the coverage regarding Harris), or their deaths not reported at all.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is still looking for a suspect. Investigators ask that anyone with information call (706) 821-1080 or (706) 821-1020.