Black transgender woman Kitty Monroe was shot to death early Wednesday in Cordova, Tenn., near Memphis, making her at least the 18th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming American to die by violence this year.
Police have arrested Samuel Ward Jr. and charged him with voluntary manslaughter, Memphis’s ABC affiliate reports. He told police he had been inside a home with Monroe, and she ordered him to leave and pulled a gun on him. They struggled, both fell down a flight of stairs, and then Ward took out his own gun and shot Monroe several times, according to a police affidavit cited by the station. He called the police from another location, and they came to the scene of the altercation and found Monroe, who died there.
Monroe is being remembered as “a beautiful person” and an animal lover.
“Kitty was a beautiful person; her energy was always light and fun,” Jasmine Tasaki, founder and executive director of WeCareTN, a Memphis-based organization that assists trans people, said in a Human Rights Campaign press release. “Her family and friends will miss her. I hope we will hold closer to each other in this dark time. Memphis has lost another beautiful person, but we’ve gained an angel.”
“Kitty Monroe should still be alive today to spend time with her beloved friends and four dogs,” added Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative. “We must remember her name as we continue the fight against this epidemic of violence on Black transgender women. Her death came too soon, and it is up to us to celebrate the life she lived and do better to protect transgender and gender-nonconforming people in our communities.”
HRC noted that domestic violence accounts for a major share of violent deaths among trans people. Among those victims whose killers have been identified, two-thirds “had their lives taken by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner,” according to an HRC report that tracked this data from 2013 to 2021. One-fifth of known perpetrators were intimate partners.
Monroe is the 18th known victim of fatal violence in this population in 2022, following a year that saw a record 57 such deaths in the community. The actual count for any year is likely much greater, given that many victims are deadnamed or misgendered in police and media reports.