Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death during a robbery in Cincinnati March 3, making her at the 11th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year.
Sanders was found about 4 a.m. that day in the parking lot of an apartment building in Cincinnati's Clifton neighborhood, known for its historic homes and popular restaurants and bars. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died shortly thereafter, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Police said they do not believe the shooting was motivated by her gender identity. It was instead a "crime of greed," Sgt. Eric Franz of the Cincinnati Police Department told the Enquirer. The investigation is continuing.
Sanders's family and friends remembered her fondly. "Diamond was a ball of energy as a child and even up to her time of death," reads an obituary posted on the Preston Charles Funeral Home's website. "She valued her family and enjoyed spending time with them. As a child, she would say 'I love my WHOLE family!' At the last family Thanksgiving dinner, Diamond let her family know she was thankful that they accepted her for who she was," including her trans identity. She loved traveling and fashion, the obit notes, adding, "Diamond's unique style, charm and personality will be greatly missed."
Whatever the motivation for the crime, Sanders's death is part of an epidemic of violence against trans people, especially Black women. "Barely three months into this year, and we continue to see devastating violence against transgender and nonbinary people in the U.S.," Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign's Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. "This is unacceptable. Diamond was loved by her friends and family, and should not have been taken from her community. We will continue to speak out against this violence and to support transgender and nonbinary people, and we need everyone to do the same."
Ohio does not have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Cooper pointed out, nor does its hate-crimes law cover attacks based on these characteristics.
David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, also spoke out. "We should not have to keep track of Black trans people whose lives are stolen -- period," he said in a press release. "Instead we should be giving them their flowers -- celebrating their many contributions to the culture, our community and the country. Since we don't have that luxury we try to keep a tally. It is never lost on me that last year, 2020, was the deadliest year on record when thinking about the stolen lives of Black trans members of our community, in part because this year we're on track to outpace last year's loss. Much more must be done to stop the violence that Black trans and gender-nonconforming members of our community are experiencing, now!"
At least 44 trans people died due to violence in the U.S. last year, and most of them were Black or Latinx women. There may have been many more, given that some are misgendered or deadnamed by police and media, or their deaths not reported at all.
Anyone with information on Sanders's death is asked to call the Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit at (531) 352-3542.