Transgender Americans are facing an epidemic of violence. Twenty-four of them were known to be homicide victims in 2018, although the actual number is likely higher, as undoubtedly some victims were misgendered by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all. The majority of victims in any year tracked by The Advocate have been women of color.
Into mid-June of 2019, 10 murders of trans Americans have been reported, all women of color. The first victim was Dana Martin, 31, who was found shot to death in a vehicle January 6 on the side of a road in Montgomery, Ala. She lived in Hope Hull, an unincorporated area near Montgomery. Some media outlets misgendered her, but local activists said she was an African-American trans woman, apparently shot while she was driving.
Jazzaline Ware, a Black trans woman, was found dead in her Memphis apartment in March, and her death is being investigated as a homicide, according to the Transgender Law Center and local activists. No additional information is available.
Ashanti Carmon, 27, of Alexandria, Va., was found shot to death March 31 on a street in Fairmount Heights, Md., just across the state line from Washington, D.C. Those who encountered her at a D.C. drop-in center run by LGBTQ support group HIPS found her "delightful," HIPS staffer and trans activist Earline Budd told the Washington Blade. Carmon was planning to marry Philip Williams, who told a D.C. TV station that his six-year relationship with her was "the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life." Upon learning of her death, "everything just went on pause for me," he added.
Claire Legato, 21, was shot in the head April 15 in the yard of a Cleveland home after an argument between her mother and a man named John Booth. Her mother had accused Booth of stealing a tax refund check, and Legato confronted him over the matter, according to Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer. Legato died of her injuries May 14. After the shooting, police issued a warrant for Booth's arrest on a charge of felonious assault. There is no word yet on whether he is in custody or whether the charge has been changed now that Legato has died, but The Advocate has put in an inquiry with the Cleveland Division of Police.
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was found shot to death on a Dallas street May 18 — a month after she was beaten by a mob at an apartment complex. Police said they did not yet have enough information to say if her murder was linked to the assault, in which she suffered a concussion and a broken wrist. In connection with the beating, one man, Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, has been arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and has been released on bond; other arrests are likely, police say, adding that there is no information linking him to Booker's death. In June, Dallas police arrested Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 33, and charged him with Booker's murder. He was already in custody on charges of murdering two nontrans people in unrelated incidents. The police force is now looking into whether her murder is related to the shooting death of another Dallas trans woman last October and the stabbing of yet another in April. They have not released the names of either woman; the stabbing victim survived. "These cases, although not directly related at this time, do have some similarities the public needs to be aware of," Major Vincent Weddington told reporters. All three were in a car with another person before the attacks, and two of them were near the same Dallas intersection immediately beforehand.
Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, who also went by Michelle Simone, died May 19 after suffering multiple gunshot wounds. “Tamika was a brilliant and outgoing member of Philadelphia’s transgender community, known for her advocacy and mentorship, and she will be profoundly missed,” Amber Hikes, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, told local TV station KYW. Washington had studied nursing at the Community College of Philadelphia. The day after her death, police arrested Troy Bailey, 28. He is charged with murder and other offenses.
Paris Cameron, 20, was fatally shot along with two gay men, Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, all of Detroit, at a home on the city's east side May 25. In the same attack, two other people were wounded and survived. The crime was motivated by the victims' identity, Wayne County prosecutors said. Devon Robinson, 19, was arrested June 5 and has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to murder, and five counts of the use of a firearm in connection with a felony.
The body of Chynal Lindsey, 26, was pulled from White Rock Lake in Dallas June 1. The Dallas police said her body displayed “obvious signs of homicidal violence.” The police have reached out to the FBI for help in solving Lindsey’s murder.
The body of Chanel Scurlock, 23, was found in a field shortly after midnight June 5 in Lumberton, N.C. She had suffered fatal gunshot wounds. Scurlock lived in Lumber Bridge, about 20 miles from Lumberton, in the southern part of the state. Local media, police, and even her family misgendered and deadnamed her, but friends and activists confirmed her trans female identity. Friends said she had gone out the night of June 4 to meet with someone who had taken down a Facebook page with pictures of her, and they feared she was going into a dangerous situation. Officials with the Robeson County Sheriff's Office say they have good leads in the case.
Zoe Spears, 23, was found shot to death in Fairmount Heights, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., just before midnight June 13. She is the second trans woman murdered in the suburb this year — Ashanti Carmon, in March, was the first. They were found within blocks of each other. Police haven't determined yet if their deaths are related but are continuing to investigate. Trans activist Earline Budd described Spears, whom she had known for six years, as a “vibrant young person.”