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Trans Woman Tiara Banks Fatally Shot in Chicago

Tiara Banks

Black transgender woman Tiara Banks was shot to death in Chicago last Wednesday, making her at least the 16th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year.

Banks, 24, was sitting alone in her car that night in the West Pullman neighborhood on the city’s far south side when someone shot her several times, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Local TV station WGN reported on the crime but did not give Banks’s name. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Howard Brown Health, which serves a largely LGBTQ+ clientele, noted Banks’s death and identified her in a Friday Facebook post. The group also called out anti-trans violence in general.

“We are experiencing an epidemic of anti-trans violence, especially violence against Black transgender women, that has been at crisis levels for far too long in this country,” Howard Brown officials wrote. “We are seeing this epidemic of transgender hate reflected in the surge of anti-trans legislation introduced in states across the country, and we are feeling the effects of anti-trans hate in the loss of yet another member of the transgender community here in Chicago.”

Kim Fountain, chief administrative officer at the Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community center, spoke to WGN about the crisis of violence. Three trans women have been killed in Chicago in the past four months, she said.

“It’s just absolutely tragic to see the level of violence that particularly Black trans women are exposed to,” Fountain said.

“Losing yet another member of our community to senseless acts of violence against transgender people, particularly Black transgender women, is both painful and incredibly frustrating,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in her organization’s news release. “At just 24 years old, Tiara had her whole entire life ahead of her and, instead, we are remembering her because of the ongoing fatal violence against transgender people. We must continue to urge everyone to call an end to the alarming rate of fatal trans violence.”

Chicago police are investigating whether Banks’s gender identity was a factor in her death, WGN reports. Another fatal shooting had occurred about half an hour earlier and less than a mile away from where Banks was killed. Anyone with information that might help solve either crime may submit tips anonymously here.

Last year saw a record 44 trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming people die by violence in the U.S., most of them Black or Latinx women. That number may actually be an undercount, as some victims are deadnamed and misgendered by police and media or their deaths not reported at all.

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