Twenty-seven homicides of transgender Americans have been reported in 2017, matching the total for 2016, which was the deadliest year on record for trans Americans. In both years, most of the victims have been women of color. The actual number killed in any given year is likely much higher, as often the media and police misgender victims, or their deaths are not reported at all.
Find out about the people behind this year's statistics on this and the following pages, and remember you can help stem this epidemic of violence by getting involved with trans rights groups and antiviolence organizations.
Above: Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, S.D., January 6, but friends believe she may have been killed as early as January 1. Police labeled her death a homicide. She was 28. Wounded Arrow was a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and part of the Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies group. She worked at Lawrence & Schiller TeleServices as a customer service agent, and studied social work at Oglala Lakota College and nursing at a Georgetown University summer program.
Mesha Caldwell was found shot to death January 4 along a rural road near Canton, Miss. Caldwell, 41, was a hairstylist and makeup artist in Canton and was well-liked in the community. “I think people will miss her style, her personality,” friend Keith Dupree told a Jackson TV station. “She won many hair battles, and she hosted competitions in Canton for the young people, so she will be missed greatly.” Friends believe she may have been targeted for being transgender, but police did not comment on a motive.
Sean Hake, a transgender man who was reportedly changing his name to Sean Ryan, was killed January 6 in an officer-involved shooting at the home he shared with his parents in Sharon, Pa. Police were called to the home because Hake had reportedly threatened his mother with a razor blade. By the time officers arrived, Hake was sitting outside in a car and had cut himself, according to the Associated Press. Police said Hake threatened them with a knife, leading one of them to shoot him. In September, however, Hake's mother filed a federal lawsuit contending the shooting was unprovoked and an excessive use of force. Hake suffered from mental health problems, his family and friends said. “He had a genuinely good heart and he had struggled with his problems,” a friend told Youngstown, Ohio, TV station WKBN. “But he always made sure that he was there for other people.”
Jojo Striker, 23, was found dead in a garage in Toledo, Ohio, February 8. She had suffered a single gunshot wound to her torso.
The victim’s mother, Shanda Striker, said she believes the murder was a hate crime. “The police told us to leave it alone but that will never happen,” she told local TV station WTOL. She said she and Jojo had not spoken in a year, but she also said her offspring “was loved.”
“Everybody loved [Jojo],” she told Toledo daily The Blade. “Everybody did. I just wish it didn’t come to all of this while we were not speaking.”
Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond
Tiara Lashaytheboss Richmond, 24, died February 21 in Chicago. She was shot in the chest, arm, and hand. Richmond was shot shortly after 6 a.m. by a person she was riding with in a vehicle. The suspect fled in the vehicle, and police found Richmond lying on the ground when they arrived. She was pronounced dead about 7 a.m. at a nearby hospital.
Friends and family mourned Richmond, a.k.a. Keke Collier, at a vigil the following night. "The family was grieving, but it wasn't just tears. There was laughter, there was love," Brave Space Alliance executive director and tirless community advocate LaSaia Wade told Windy City Times. "[Tiara] was the oldest sibling of three girls and she was really loved by her family. She was the life of the party."
Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot to death February 19 in Monroe, La. She was shot during an argument, and police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Malcolm Harvey on a charge of second-degree murder. Holland, who also used the name Jaquarrius Brown, was unemployed and lacked stable housing, friend Chesna Littleberry told Mic. She often stayed with Littleberry, who said Holland was like a younger sister to her and taught her self-acceptance. “I’ve struggled with accepting myself and being who I am, and she always helped me with that," Littleberry told Mic. “I want her to rest peacefully.”
Chyna Doll Dupree
Nationally known drag performer Chyna Doll Dupree, a transgender woman, was shot to death February 25 near a shopping center in New Orleans. Neighbors reported hearing eight to 10 gunshots. Dupree, who was also known as Chyna Gibson, had been living in California but returned to her former hometown of New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras with friends and relatives. She had toured in drag shows across the nation and was famous in the pageant and ball scene. “She was just a really good person,” a friend told local newspaper The Times-Picayune. “Everyone loved her.”
Ciara McElveen was stabbed to death February 27 in New Orleans. She was dragged out of a car by a man who had already stabbed her. He slammed her head to the ground, then returned to the car and drove away, a witness said. McElveen was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. “I’m so thrown right now,” New Orleans transgender activist Syria Sinclaire told Mic. Sinclaire, a program coordinator at the Tulane Drop-In Wellness Center, had worked with McElveen doing outreach to homeless people in the city.
Alphonza Watson, 38, died of a gunshot wound to the stomach March 22 in Baltimore. Police found her about 4:15 a.m. and took her to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she died shortly thereafter. Witnesses said they heard someone screaming for help, heard shots, and then saw two men driving away.
She came out as transgender in her teens and went by the nickname "Peaches," her mother, Peggy Walker, told The Baltimore Sun. "She was a very caring, passionate, fun person to be around, always in a talkative and playful mood," Walker said. "Very close to the Lord. She didn't belong to a church or anything like that, but she always talked about the Lord." She said Watson had worked at an upscale retailer in Virginia, where she was one of the best salespeople.
Kenneth Bostick, 59, died May 4 of a severe head injury he sustained in a beating April 25. He was found on the sidewalk outside a Five Guys restaurant in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. Joseph Griffin, 26, has been charged with manslaughter in the case, and is accused of beating Bostick with a long metal object. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. Griffin had been arrested after behaving erratically and jumping into traffic, smashing a taxi's windshield. He claimed that Bostick had stolen his backpack, but there is no evidence of that. Initial reports identified Bostick as a transgender woman named Brenda, but more recent coverage, including articles in the Village Voice, identify him as a trans man named Kenneth. "A social services provider who worked with Bostick for years confirmed to the Voice that he identified as male and has been widel misgendered by advocacy organizations and the media (including the Village Voice) since his death," the Voice reported in May.
Sherrell Faulkner, 46, died May 16 at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., of injuries sustained in a November attack. She was found beaten, beside a trash bin, November 30 in Charlotte. Police have ruled her death a homicide.
Kenne McFadden, 26, was found dead in the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas, April 9, but her death was not classified as a homicide until June. McFadden, who was misgendered in the first accounts of her death, worked at a restaurant in the Riverwalk, a popular San Antonio entertainment area, and was in the process of transitioning. Friends said she was outgoing and loved to sing; she also wrote poetry. A “person of interest” in her death is being held on unrelated charges, police told the San Antonio Express-News. The person has not been officially designated a suspect, and police have not released the individual’s name.
The burned body of Josie Berrios, 28, of Ithaca, N.Y., was discovered June 13 at a construction site in the city. A can of gasoline was next to her body. Michael Davis, 45, was arrested the same day and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson. He has pleaded not guilty. Berrios performed in drag under the name Kimbrella Rosé as part of the House of Merlot and was in the process of adopting the name Kendra Adams. “She would take every negative thing that people brought about her and every aspect of her personalty that could be degraded and blow it back at everyone," Colton Bready, a friend and fellow House of Merlot performer, told Mic. “That’s what made her so great on the stage.”
Ava Le'Ray Barrin
Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, of Athens, Ga., was shot during an altercation June 25 in the parking lot of her apartment complex and died at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter.
Jalen Breon Brown, 21, who reportedly knew Barrin, has been charged with murder and aggravated assault and is being held in Athens-Clarke County Jail. Brown, who claimed self-defense, also is a transgender woman; both she and Barrin were misgendered by Georgia newspapers. An obituary on Bazaar Daily, a U.K. site, called Barrin “a girl who loved to make people laugh” and “unapologetically real.” She “will be remembered as a person who wanted nothing more than to have fun in life,” the obit reported.
Ebony Morgan, 28, of Lynchburg, Va., died July 2 of multiple gunshot wounds. Police have identified Kenneth Allen Kelley Jr., as a "person of interest" in Morgan's death, reports local paper The News & Advance, but as of mid-August he remained at large. He is also wanted on drug charges. Police said they are not sure if Morgan's death was a hate crime.
TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, was shot to death in her car outside an apartment complex in College Park, a suburb of Atlanta, July 31. Tyrone Kemp, 26, was arrested August 22 at the car dealership where he worked in the nearby community of Union City. He has been charged with malice murder; under Georgia law, malice is defined as the express or implied intent to kill. Investigators have yet to determine if Dangerfield's gender was a motive for the killing.
Jaylow McGlory, 29, was shot to death in Alexandria, La., August 4, but initial media reports misgendered her, and news of her transgender identity did not emerge until November. Desmond Harris, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder in the case, according to the New York City Anti-Violence Project.
Gwynevere River Song
Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot to death at their home in Waxahachie, Texas, August 12. There was reportedly an argument between Song and another person in the home that day; the other person was wounded and hospitalized. The Ellis County Sheriff's Office is investigating. Song, a University of Texas alum, identified as “femandrogyne” and bisexual, and used they/their pronouns.
Kiwi Herring was killed by police in St. Louis August 22. Officers were responding to a report that she had stabbed a neighbor, and when they confronted her, she cut one of them with a knife, and then they fatally shot her. Herring's sister-in-law, Crevonda Nance, said Herring had endured ongoing harassment by the neighbor, and that she believes police used excessive force against her. Both the officer and the other man who was stabbed survived. The following night, mourners for Herring held a vigil for Herring in the city's Trangender Memorial Garden, then marched through nearby streets. At one point a motorist ran into them, causing minor injuries to three. Herring leaves a spouse and three children.
Transgender man Kashmire Redd, 28, suffered several stab wounds in his home in Gates, N.Y., just outside Rochester, early in the morning of September 4, and died at a local hospital later that day. His partner, Doris Carrasquillo, 40, has been charged with first-degree manslaugher, reduced from an initial charge of second-degree murder. Police say Redd was stabbed several times in the upper body during an argument between the couple. Carrasquillo was being held without bond in the Monroe County Jail.
Derricka Banner, 26, was shot to death in a car in Charlotte, N.C., the morning of September 12. Her body was discovered as rain and high winds associated with Tropical Storm Irma battered the city. Montavious Sanchez Berry, 18, was arrested later that day. He has been charged with Banner's murder as well as armed robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Ally Steinfeld, 17, of Houston, Mo., was found dead September 20 near a trailer in Cahool, Mo., having been killed by multiple stab wounds, including to her eyes and genitals. Police said she was likely killed September 3, six days before her birthday. Her family had last heard from her September 1 and reported her missing September 14. Her killers had burned her body to conceal evidence of their crime.
Andrew Vrba, and his girlfriend, Isis Schauer, both 18-year-old Houston residents, are charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and abandonment of a corpse. Briana Calderas, 24, is charged with first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. Steinfeld’s remains were found near Calderas's trailer in Cabool. James Grigsby is charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Police said they expect further arrests.
Ashleigh Boswell, Steinfeld's sister, said the teen was "a very loving, outgoing person" who "didn't like conflict whatsoever." Steinfeld had talked to her family about being transgender and wanting to undergo gender-confirmation surgery.
Among the contributors to a GoFundMe campaign to cover Steinfeld's funeral expenses was actress Patricia Arquette, a longtime LGBT ally whose transgender sister, Alexis, died in 2016 of AIDS-related complications. Patricia Arquette wrote this message on the GoFundMe page: “This donation is honor of Ally. Who was brave enough to live her truth in a very ignorant world. I am praying for your family during this heartbreaking time. May you be surrounded by support and love.”
Stephanie Montez was found shot to death along a road near Robstown, Texas, a suburb of Corpus Christi, October 21. She had wounds in the chest, abdomen, and shoulder. The Nueces County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate. “She was one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet,” Montez’s longtime friend Brittany Ramirez told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times,adding, “She just had a great outlook on life. She was very supportive of everyone. … I don’t know why anybody would do this.” Montez loved to dance and often performed in drag shows, Ramirez said. In early November, three people were arrested in connection with her death: 39-year-old Cedric Green, 41-year-old Randy Dorsey, and 36-year-old Chloe Huehlefeld. All were arrested on suspicion of murder, with Dorsey also suspectied of "tampering with a witness," according to the Caller-Times.
Candace Towns was found shot to death October 31 in Macon, Ga. She was last seen alive October 28 and was reported missing the next day. She was found at the end of a driveway in a run-down section of the city, according to Macon newspaper The Telegraph. Towns had been shot in the ankle just a few blocks away in 2009. Her best friend, Malaysa Monroe, remember her as a kind and generous person. “If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Monroe told The Telegraph. “I just don’t know who would want to do something like this to a good friend of mine, but I hope whoever did this, I hope God don’t have mercy on your soul, baby.” The investigation into her death continues.
Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31, was found dead in a hotel room in Oklahoma City November 27. Police would not say how she was killed, but said she had trauma to her body that was "consistent with homicide." They have yet to make an arrest or determine a motive. Stevenson's death “broke my heart,” said local transgender activist Paula Sophia Schonauer added. “I’ve gotten to know Brooklyn a little bit. I knew how hard she was trying and how much she was working to establish her identity and to establish a place in the world for herself.” Stevenson’s family released this statement: “We are heartbroken. Brooklyn BreYanna was an amazing daughter, sister and friend with a giving and loving heart. We pray that those who committed this heinous crime will be identified and Brooklyn will receive justice.” Police ask that anyone with information about the crime call the department’s homicide tip line, (405) 297-1200.
Brandi Seals, 26, was found dead about 6 a.m. December 13 at the site of a home under construction in the Sunnyside neighborhood in southeast Houston. Seals had been shot to death, according to a local TV report, which unforutunaely misgendered her and used her former name.
Seals’s aunt, Maria Cheeks, described her to the TV station as “a loving person” and “a beautiful person.” Cheeks added, “Whoever took [her] life, they have to answer. Maybe the police might not can get you, but you will have to answer to one person. And that’s the higher power of God. You will have to answer to him.” Police have yet to identify a suspect, although they said the killer may have been motivated by discovery of Seals's transgender identity.