Black transgender woman Serenity Hollis was shot to death in Albany, Ga., May 8, becoming at least the 25th reported trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person lost to fatal violence in the U.S. this year.
Hollis, 24, was shot once in the back early in the morning while walking down a street in Albany, according to local media, which misgendered and deadnamed her, as have police and prosecutors. The Albany Police Department released video on Facebook showing someone approaching her from behind, shooting her, and then fleeing.
Authorities suspect that her death was a hate crime. “I cannot go into the specifics of everything about what happened, but it was pretty apparent that was probably a motivation for the death,” Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards told TV station WALB, still misgendering Hollis.
Shannen Osberry, one of Hollis’s sisters, told another station, WFXL, that she believed Hollis’s death was “either a hate crime or an act of revenge for some reason.” Without identifying Hollis as trans, she said someone may have been offended by the way her sibling carried herself.
Another sister, Sara Osberry, told WXFL Hollis has been attacked before, having been stabbed multiple times at an Albany nightclub, the House of Jazz, about two and a half years ago. Hollis’s mother, Robyn Osberry, also spoke to the station, saying, “The person that’s responsible has no idea what they took from us. … I absolutely want to see that justice is served.”
Activists bemoaned the continuing epidemic of violence against trans Americans, especially women of color. “We’re less than halfway through the year and we’re already on track to break 2020’s devastating record for incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people,” said a statement from Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative. “This outbreak of violence against transgender people, particularly Black trans women, must stop.” There were 44 deaths reported last year.
“The loss of another young person in the LGBTQ+/SGL community is extremely disheartening,” Victoria Kirby York, deputy executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a press release. “Serenity finally found the world inviting enough to show her authenticity. We stand in solidarity with the Hollis family and other loved ones who appreciated her existence. We challenge the Georgia state legislature and other elected and appointed leaders to take notice of this destructive trend of transphobia and anti-trans violence encouraged by their own rhetoric and anti-trans legislation by repealing those and creating legislation to stop such needless death.”
The Albany Police Department asks anyone with information that may lead to an arrest to call the department at (229) 431-2100 or Crime Stoppers at (229) 436-TIPS.