Stella Maxwell
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Trans Homicides Reach Tragic Milestone With Louisiana Woman's Death

Brooklyn DeShauna Smith

2020 is officially the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, with the death of Shreveport, La., resident Brooklyn DeShauna Smith being the 32nd reported homicide.

Smith was found dead in her apartment Wednesday afternoon, having suffered at least one gunshot wound, the Shreveport Times reports. She was 20 years old.

“Investigators are working to determine if gender identification was a factor in her death,” Shreveport Police Sgt. Angie Willhite said, according to local TV station KSLA.

Shreveport Police ask that anyone with information call detectives at (318) 673-6955 or the main number, (318) 673-7300, and select option 3. Tips may also be submitted to Shreveport-Caddo Crime Stoppers by phone at (318) 673-7373, visiting the group’s website, or using the P3 Tips app to offer information anonymously.

Until this year, 2017 was the deadliest year for trans Americans since media and activists began keeping records, with 31 homicides reported. The actual figure for any given year is likely higher, given that many trans people are misgendered or deadnamed by police and media, or their deaths not reported at all. More accurate reporting may be responsible for some increase in numbers, but in any case, it’s clear there is an epidemic of violence of against trans people, especially Black women.

The figure of 32 homicides in 40 weeks represents one every nine days, the Human Rights Campaign notes. Since HRC began tracking trans homicides in 2013, it has documented 197, with two-thirds of victims being Black women and more than 60 percent involving gun violence.

HRC President Alphonso David issued a statement calling Smith’s death “a tragic milestone.” He continued, “Each person was ripped from their family, their friends and their community by an act of senseless violence driven by bigotry and transphobia, and inflamed by the rhetoric of those who oppose our progress.

“Dehumanizing rhetoric, especially by political leaders like President Trump, has a real-life consequence for the community, particularly transgender women of color and especially Black transgender women. As the presidential campaign has hit its crescendo, so too has the attacks coming from Trump, his administration and his allies. They have spent millions on ads spewing hate and lies about the transgender and gender-nonconforming community, and have attacked their right to health care, right to serve and right to live openly — dehumanizing and denying them the dignity they deserve at every opportunity.

“Every life has value, and we must utilize this moment to not only remember Brooklyn and each and every one of the people killed this year, but take action and work to dismantle this culture of violence and stigma that the transgender and gender-nonconforming community faces. Our community’s lives are on the line, and we must commit with every breath to fight for the change we need.”

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