Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Black Trans Woman Danyale Johnson Fatally Shot in Memphis

Danyale Johnson

Black transgender woman Danyale Johnson, 35, was shot to death in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month, and the confirmation of her killing means at least 48 trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming Americans have died by violence in 2021, the most in any year since activists and media began keeping records.

The shooting took place in the parking lot of a motel, the Bellevue Inn, about 1 a.m. November 6, according to Memphis’s Fox affiliate, which misgendered Johnson. A local transgender activist group, We Care TN, has confirmed she was trans.

Memphis police, also misgendering Johnson, tweeted that the shooter was “an unknown male” who had argued with the victim. The gunman stole her car and drove away from the scene. Johnson was taken to a local hospital but did not survive.

Johnson was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis and had attended the University of Memphis, reports Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, which monitors anti-trans violence. Her mother has held vigils in her memory and has organized a crowdfunding campaign for funeral expenses. Johnson’s two younger brothers have died in the past year as well, according to the site.

“Rest in power, Danyale,” Sue Kerr wrote on the site. “Your entrepreneurial spirit, your zest for life, and your lovely spirit will be missed. Your family has endured so many tragedies and there is little comfort to be found except to honor those bonds. You deserved many more years to grow, prosper, and achieve. I am sorry we failed to keep you safe.”

Memphis police ask that anyone with information about the crime call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.

In 2020, at least 44 trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming people died by violence in the U.S., a record that was surpassed in 2021. The total for any year is undoubtedly higher, as many victims are misgendered by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all. Most of the victims are women of color, especially Black women.

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