The Philadelphia Police Department confirms to The Advocate that a 22-year-old trans woman known as Kiesha Jenkins was murdered today.
Jenkins's death, which marks the 20th trans woman reported murdered in the U.S. this year, comes less than two months after advocates confirmed in August reports of three additional black trans women killed in the preceeding months.
Officer Tanya Little, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department's Office of Public Affairs, states that Jenkins was attacked by five to six males, and shot in the back while exiting her vehicle at 13th and Wingohocking streets around 2:30 a.m. in North Philadelphia. She was pronounced dead at approximately 2:53 a.m. today at Einstein Medical Center.
“We will leave no stone unturned,” says Little, noting that, while no motive is known at this time, investigators are considering the possibility that Jenkins’s transgender identity played a role in the attack. Little also stressed the following:
“The victim’s gender is definitely something that investigators are looking into and we will consider her identity under the umbrella of all motives. We are canvasing the area where the homicide occurred for witnesses and investigators hope to examine available surveillance videos.”
Jenkins was a 22-year old Philadelphia native, who attended West Philadelphia High School and Temple University, according to Philadelphia Gay News.
Philadelphia TV station WCAU reports that Jenkins was first beaten by her attackers, and shot in the back twice by one of the assailants after she fell to the ground beside the vehicle.
No further information is available at this time about the identities of the suspects, and no arrests have yet been made.
Jenkins’ death follows that of another Philadelphia black trans woman, 21-year-old London Chanel, who was found deceased shortly after midnight on May 18 in front of an abandoned North Philadelphia house after being stabbed twice. Chanel had moved to the city several years earlier from her hometown of Victoria, Texas, where she reportedly lived in a youth shelter, as The Advocate reported.
Although Pennsylvania does not have statewide hate-crimes legislation, Philadelphia city councilmembers last year unanimously passed a policy that allows local law enforcement officials to impose stiffer penalties against those whose violence is motivated by bias, including that based on percieved or actual sexual orientation and gender identity.
Jenkins becomes the 20th transgender woman confirmed murdered in the U.S. in 2015, highlighing why trans advocates continue to decry an "epidemic" of transphobic violence. The vast majority of the women killed this year have been transgender women of color. By comparison, 12 transgender women were murdered in all of 2014.
This story is developing. If you have any information on the shooting, please call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-3334.