Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Trans Woman Nikai David Killed in Oakland in Deadliest Year on Record

Nikai David

Black transgender woman Nikai David was shot to death early Friday in Oakland, Calif., becoming this year’s 50th known trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming victim of fatal violence in the U.S.

David, 33, who lived in nearby Hayward, was found on a street in west Oakland about 4 a.m. with a gunshot wound to the head, Bay Area TV station KTVU reports. She died at the scene.

She “was a model and aspiring social media influencer who dreamed of opening her own clothing boutique,” notes a Human Rights Campaign press release.

“I was really devastated when I found out, when I got the news,” her friend Ashlee Banks told KTVU. Banks, who described David as a fun-loving, considerate person, said there was likely “some type of physical altercation” that led to the shooting. “To the people who harmed her, I just hope that justice is served,” she added.

Oakland police said there is no evidence so far that this was a hate crime, but others have commented on the general devaluation of trans lives. “In general, people are ready to attack transgender people, just because they’re transgender,” Joe Hawkins, cofounder and CEO of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, told the station. The center is planning a memorial service and will post the information on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

Police are continuing to investigate. They ask that anyone with information about David’s case call the Oakland Police Department’s Homicide Section at (510) 238-3821 or the department’s tip line at (510) 238-7950.

“Learning about Nikai David’s death is disheartening and alarming,” Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. “In the year that we’ve marked as the deadliest year on record for our community, we continue to see a frightening rate of fatal violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people. We must all continue to demand that the violence cease. David was a young person with so much life ahead of her. For her future to have been violently taken away from her serves as a reminder that we remain with so much work ahead of us to ensure a safe and loving world for all.”

In 2020, a record 44 trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans were known to have died by violence, but 2021’s total has exceeded that. The number of victims in any given year is likely higher, as some are misgendered and deadnamed by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all.

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