Mel Groves, a 25-year-old Black transgender man, died Monday in Jackson, Miss., after having been shot multiple times.
Groves drove himself to Merit Health Hospital in Jackson and collapsed while getting out of his vehicle, Jackson’s Clarion Ledger reports. He was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he died. The Jackson Police Department is investigating his death as a homicide, and is still searching for suspects and trying to determine a motive.
“Groves was a farmer for the Knights and Orchids Society’s garden program and a plant-soil scientist who loved agriculture and animals,” notes a press release from the National Black Justice Coalition.
The society, the NBJC, and several of the victim’s friends called out local media for misgendering and deadnaming Groves, who is at least the 39th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year. That’s approaching last year’s record of 44, and that’s not counting all the deaths not reported because of misgendering.
“The violence this year seems never-ending, and I am devastated each time I hear of another trans sibling lost,” Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the NBJC, said in the release. “What is even more heartbreaking is the fact Mel expressed fear for his life because he was trans living in Jackson. Trans people should not have to fear violence simply because of their identity, but that is our country’s current reality. This has to do with the prevalence of transphobia in our daily lives and the inaction around the epidemic of violence against the trans community.
“How many times do advocates have to demand legislation that protects the trans community before lawmakers introduce and pass laws that do so? How many times must we point out that misgendering and deadnaming in police reports and news coverage damages the investigations? How many times must we highlight the need for training and action from public safety officials addressing and preventing the violence against the trans community? We cannot continue the way we are going. The time for action is now before even more lives are lost.”
The Knights and Orchids Society is offering a reward for information that will help in the investigation.