A beloved transgender activist and drag performer has been shot to death in Washington State, meaning violent deaths of trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans this year total 44 — matching 2020’s record.
Rikkey Outumuro, 39, was found dead on a street in Centralia Sunday morning, reports local newspaper The Chronicle. She had been shot five times in the chest. She was known for performing as Tru Starlet and had been crowned the first Miss Gay Lewis County in 2008.
Cristopher Allen Gaudreau, 28, of Centralia, was arrested the same day and is charged with first-degree murder and domestic violence; the two were in a relationship and had been seen arguing the night before. He was scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Outumuro is being remembered fondly. One of her recent performances was at Capital City Pride in Olympia in June. “It was a blessing to have her brighten up our stage,” Capital City Pride posted on Facebook, noting in another post that she was “a beloved community member.”
A friend wrote on social media that she was “an incredible advocate for the queer and trans community for nearly 20 years. ... She focused much of her time organizing and sharing her fire and wisdom with the students at Centralia College. She was always profoundly herself and a brilliant light for countless loved ones and folx in Centralia and Olympia, WA.”
“Rikkey was many things,” Luis Nok Otumuro, her uncle, posted on Facebook. “Daughter. Sister. Niece. Cousin. Mom. Advocate. Defender. Friend. And proudly trans. Rikkey will be missed greatly by many. I will miss you Rikkey.”
Anna Schlecht, former chair of Capital City Pride, wrote, “I’ve known her since she was little. She was best friends with my then-girlfriend’s daughter. They would go to the neighborhood food co-op and play ‘dress up drag queen’ near the free box to the delight of co-op members, often doing little drag shows.”
“Tragically, interpersonal violence accounts for a significant number of fatalities against transgender and gender non-conforming people,” notes a Human Rights Campaign press release. “In 2020, approximately seven in ten transgender and gender non-conforming people killed as a result of fatal violence were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner. Unfortunately, the relationship of the victim to the killer is still unknown for close to one-third (30%) of all known cases. This means that anywhere from 44% to 74% of victims since 2013 were violently killed by someone they knew, including intimate partners, family members, friends, peers and acquaintances.”
“With Tru Starlet’s death, we’ve tied last year’s record number of fatal violence cases with two whole months remaining in 2021,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. “Each one of these cases has been an unspeakable tragedy. Tru Starlet touched the lives of so many people in her community. Gun violence and domestic violence are plagues upon our nation and leave far too many in mourning. Although Tru Starlet’s life has been stolen, her legacy as a performer and as a person will live on in the memories of those who knew her.”
A candlelight vigil in her memory has been scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Pine Street Plaza in Centralia. Capital City Pride has set up a Facebook fundraiser to raise money for funeral expenses.