The deaths of two more transgender or gender-nonconforming Americans have been reported, and their loved ones suspect homicide — which, if that is the case, means that 26 trans people have been murdered in the U.S. this year.
The body of 18-year-old Sierra Bush, who sometimes went by the name Simon Bush or Sierra Simon and usually preferred gender-neutral pronouns, was found October 22 in Mores Creek near Idaho City, Idaho. Police have released little information about the teen’s death, saying only that the circumstances are “suspicious,” the Idaho Statesman reports, but Bush’s mother and stepfather believe their child was murdered.
Meanwhile, national LGBT organizations have been notified of the death of transgender woman Lexxi T. Sironen, 43, in Waterville, Maine, in September. Her body was found in a reservoir of the Kennebec River September 6, the Kennebec Journal reports.
Bush was a student at Boise State University and had been missing for a month before their body was found. At a memorial vigil at the university, friends described the teen as having both masculine and feminine sides and being “brave, funny, brilliant, energetic, accepting, pun-prone,” the Statesman reports.
“It was just two different sides of the same person. Two different names of the same person,” Samantha McGraw, who had been friends with Bush since high school in Meridian, Idaho, told the paper. “It didn’t matter what she was going by, she was still the same person all of us knew.”
“The fact that she was able to be her in all of her quirkiness and be completely fine with it was something that was very refreshing and encouraging to the rest of us,” McGraw added.
Bush had lived with their mother and stepfather, Mary Helen and Bart Green, in Meridian until June, then moved in with father Phil Bush in Boise shortly after her high school graduation. The teen was last seen alive September 24, a Saturday, and friends and family became suspicious when Bush failed to show up for a meeting with friends at Boise State’s Albertson Library the next day or for classes when the school week began.
“Mary Helen and I have felt from the very beginning that this is an abduction case,” Bart Green told the Statesman.
Sironen, the Maine woman, was a transient, local media report. She had been staying with family in Skowhegan, then had visited friends in Waterville the week before her death, a family member told the Journal.
The police have not released results of her autopsy, and her death remains under investigation. Jason Stephenson, a friend of Sironen’s who lives in the Waterville apartment she once occupied, said he was beaten during a home invasion September 5, and he believes his attackers were looking for Sironen and perhaps even mistook him for her in the dark. But police said they do not believe the home invasion was related to Sironen’s death, the Journal reports.
Sironen’s friends described her as a loving and generous person. “She’d do anything for anybody,” Chelsea Letourneau, who had known Sironen for eight years, told the newspaper.
Stephenson added, “She had a good heart in her. And people played on it. She was never out to hurt anybody.”
Friends said they definitely believed Sironen’s death was not a suicide. “She loved her life,” Letourneau told the Journal. “She wanted a life, just like anybody else.”
[RELATED: These Are the Trans People Killed in 2016]