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.
Through mid-December of 2019, 21 murders of trans Americans have been reported, all but one being women of color. Initial reports indicated that Ja'leyah-Jamar Berryman, killed in September in Kansas City, Kan., was a trans woman, but the Berryman family has released a video identifying the victim as male, although Berryman appears to have been a member of the LGBTQ community. The Advocate has removed Berryman's name from this list for now but will reconsider if more information becomes available.
Also, police in Pittsburgh investigated the death of Elisha Chanel Stanley, a Black trans woman who was found dead at a hotel in the city September 16. Stanley, a.k.a. Elisha Diamond, was a well-known activist, and her friends suspected she was murdered, but the coroner's office ruled in November that her death was due to an accidental drug overdose. And the death of Jazzaline Ware, who was found dead in her apartment in Memphis, Tenn., in March, was initially investigated as a homicide, but police there concluded she died of natural causes, so she has been removed from the list.
The first known trans victim of the year 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.
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. The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Javaras Hammonds, 20, of Lumberton, June 12. He is charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
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. Trans activist Earline Budd described Spears, whom she had known for six years, as a “vibrant young person.” Spears worked in retail and had ambitions to become a lawyer.
In mid-July, Prince George's County Police arrested Gerardo Thomas, 33, of Baltimore in connection with Spears's death. He was charged with first-degree murder. Police said they do not think the crime was motivated by Spears's gender identity, and they also do not believe there was a connection between Spears's death and Carmon's, although the two women were friends and Spears had been interviewed as a witness in the investigation of Carmon's death.
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, was found dead on the porch of an abandoned house in Kansas City, Mo., June 25. Her face showed “obvious signs of trauma,” according to The Kansas City Star, and police later determined she had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Neighbors said they heard an argument and gunshots at the house a few hours before Lindsey's body was found. In July, police arrested Marcus Lewis, 41. He has been charged with second-degree murder, felony armed criminal action, and felony unlawful possession of a firearm.
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, was found shot to death along a road in North Charleston, S.C., July 20. Police and local media initially misgendered and deadnamed her, but police then announced they had learned she was a transgender woman. She was a Charleston native and worked as a manicurist. Police are investigating her death as a homicide but have declined to say if they believe it was a hate crime. A suspect, Dominick Archield, 34, turned himself in to police August 11 and faces murder charges.
Tracy Single, 22, was found dead in a gas station parking lot in Houston July 30, having suffered severe lacerations and puncture wounds. Her name and her transgender identity were not reported until several days later, after investigation by the Houston Police's LGBT liaison and local activists. She was also known by the name Tracy Williams. In her honor, Houston lit its City Hall in the pink, blue, and white colors of the trans Pride flag for two days in August and illuminated a section of bridges in the heavily LGBTQ Montrose neighborhood in the same colors. Joshua Dominic Bourgeois, 25, was arrested August 23 and is charged with Single's murder. Police said the two had been dating.
Kiki Fantroy was shot to death in the early hours of July 31. Miami police believe Fantroy was murdered during an argument and not targeted for her transgender identity; her mother disagrees.
“This feeling is indescribable. The pain. The void. You know that feeling after losing a child and you losing a child for no apparent reason. Because she’s gay,” Fantroy's mother, Rhonda Comer, told the Miami Herald. “And my understanding, you know, my understanding was she was killed because of her desire to be a woman.”
Fantroy was shot multiple times in front of an abandoned home, and a group of people were nearby when it happened. Comer says her daughter, who lived with her, was coming home from a party when she was murdered. Fantroy began transitioning before her teens and endured much bullying, according to Comer. The young woman loved photography and music, and hoped to one day compete on RuPaul's Drag Race.
Pebbles LaDime Doe was found dead in a car in Allendale County, S.C., in early August. Police have released few details, declining to speak to local media. Her family and friends were devastated by her death. “There has been too many killing going on and no one is doing anything about it,” Barbara Kolberg, a relative of Doe's, told a Georgia TV station. The Alliance for Full Acceptance, a local advocacy group, issued a statement saying, “We are at a crisis point that demands the nation’s attention. At this moment, there is no sense of peace or security for our transgender community— and there won’t be until their lives are truly respected and valued by society.”
Jordan Cofer, a transgender man, was the first casualty of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, August 4. The gunman, who died in a shootout with police, was Connor Betts, Cofer's brother. Betts opened fire in a popular Dayton entertainment district, killing nine people. Several media accounts identified Cofer as Betts's sister and deadnamed him, but the website Splinter and the National Center for Transgender Equality said Cofer was a trans man, although not out to his family, so his gender identity was likely not a factor in his death. Cofer had recently been an intern for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana.
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Jordan as well as eight others in this tragic and violent act," the NCTE's Gillian Branstetter wrote in a statement sent to The Advocate. "Mass gun violence is an epidemic in this country and deserving of swift and immediate action by lawmakers at all levels of government. We join the nation in mourning for every community impacted by gun violence."
The body of Bee Love Slater, 23, was found burned beyond recognition in her car in Clewiston, Fla., September 4, and her name was released to the public two days later. Friends told local media they believe Slater was targeted because of her gender identity. The Hendry County Sheriff's Office has yet to make a statement on the motive for the crime, but investigators do say it's one of the most brutal murders they've ever seen.
Itali Marlowe, 29, was murdered in Houston September 20, but police did not release details of her death until October. When police found her in a driveway, she had been shot multiple times, and she was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly thereafter. The Fort Bend County district attorney has charged Raymond Donald Williams, 23, with Marlowe's murder, but he remains at large.
Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, of Vancouver, Wash., went missing June 6, and her body was found December 7 in a wooded area on Larch Mountain, located in a remote part of northeast Clark County in Washington State. David Y. Bogdanov, 25, also of Vancouver, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The two had met after communicating on Snapchat, and Bogdanov was offended when he discovered she was transgender, according to police. Bogdanov is being held without bail, pending a hearing January 2.
Yahira Nesby, 33, was shot to death in a building in Brooklyn, N.Y., December 19. She had been wounded in the chest and leg, and was dead by the time police arrived. A man who injured his foot after jumping out of a second-floor window in the building has been arrested. He has been hospitalized, and charges are pending. His name has not been released.