Fatal violence against transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans is continuing in 2022, after 2021 saw at least 57 members of this population die violently, the most in the time that activists and media have been keeping track. We say “at least” because there are likely many other such deaths, with victims deadnamed or misgendered, or their deaths not reported at all.
In any given year, the majority of victims are Black and Latinx women, but this epidemic of violence affects the entire community. On the following pages, we remember those we’ve lost.
Amarey Lej, 21, was found dead on a Pittsburgh street early in the morning of January 1. She had been shot. She was one of about a half-dozen trans people of color to have died violently in the area in the past year.
“Amarey was a bright woman and former student at Woodland Hills [School District]. We at SisTers PGH would like to send her fellow classmates our deepest condolences, but also our deepest gratitude, as you rose in protection of Amarey when she needed it most,” SisTers PGH said in a statement on Facebook.
Duval Princess, 24, of Jacksonville, Fla., was found shot to death in her car at a shopping center January 2. Princess’s family told local media that she had an “outgoing personality” and was “a little firefly.” She worked as a hairstylist and was in the early stages of transitioning.
Matthew Angelo Spampinato, a 21-year-old trans man, was killed in a hit-and-run car crash February 9 in New Castle, Del. He was walking home from work at a Starbucks, where he was well-regarded by coworkers.
“He was always so selfless,” colleague Samantha Strothmann told the Delaware News Journal. “He would always ask how everybody was doing even when he wasn’t having a good day himself.” Customers described him as “a breath of fresh air” and someone with “a smile that could turn a day around,” the paper reports.
He moved to Delaware from Georgia just last year. He had begun hormone treatment about a year before his death.
Naomi Skinner, 25, was fatally shot in Highland Park, Mich., February 12. Her boyfriend, Michael Cortez Norris, 26, has been charged with second-degree murder. Friends and family described Skinner as a “very outstanding person” who lived a “fabulous life.” Her death reflects the high level of intimate partner violence faced by trans people.
Cypress Ramos, 21, a popular drag performer, was found dead in a storage unit in Lubbock, Texas, February 12. She had died after being struck with a heavy object. Allen Montemayor, 32, has been charged with murder. He has claimed that he acted in self-defense and that he heard a song telling him to kill Ramos.
Paloma Vazquez, 29, was shot to death in Houston the first weekend in March. Vazquez had been in the U.S. just six months and had fled anti-trans violence in Honduras. "She had just moved into her new apartment and was very excited about decorating," friend Gia Pacheco said. She had already become active in the Houston trans community, working with the Organization for Latina Trans in Texas.
Tatiana “Tee Tee” Labelle, 33, was found dead March 18 in a trash can in Chicago. She had been beaten to death. She was last seen alive five days earlier. “It is heartbreaking for someone to beat her to death and throw her in the trash like she was garbage,” her sister Shameika Thomas told Chicago TV station WLS.
Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, 19, was fatally shot by her father March 19 at their home in Cherokee County, Ga. Her father, Howard Newhouse, 57, then died by suicide. Katie Newhouse was described as a proud Filipina-American who was neurodivergent. She was an advocate for trans rights and an enthusiastic video gamer.
Kenyatta “Kesha” Webster, 24, was found dead in Jackson, Miss., March 26. Family members have said Webster’s death was robbery-homicide, but police have yet to confirm. On April 1, more than 100 people attended a balloon release honoring her. At the event, her mother, Sharon Taylor, called for justice. “Everybody share it all on Facebook,” Taylor said. “All over Facebook. Let it go out, because I want justice for my baby. Because she was loved. She had plenty of love. She didn’t deserve that. She ain’t no dog, no rag or dirt. She’s gonna get justice.”
Miia Love Parker, 25, was shot to death April 1 in Chester, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, and police have identified a suspect but have yet to apprehend him. Parker was in a parked vehicle when she was shot. A friend took her to a hospital, but she did not survive. Chester police are searching for Saad Najeed Dwight, 38. He will face charges of criminal homicide, third-degree murder, and possession of a firearm not to be carried without a license.
“Friends remember Miia Love Parker as a brilliant light that brought joy into every room she entered,” Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “That light was extinguished far too soon.”
Fern Feather, 29, of Hinesburg, Vt., was found stabbed to death April 12 along a road in another Vermont community, Morristown, and the man charged has made statements amounting to a “trans panic” defense. Seth Brunell, 43, told police Feather had made a sexual advance toward him and “attacked” him, so he had to defend himself. But police said they saw no signs of a struggle and that Brunell was not injured. He is charged with second-degree murder.
Feather’s friends described her in glowing terms. “Fern was one of the most brilliant, colorful, loving, special, super special people that you would ever meet,” Nina Shoenthal told Vermont Public Radio. “The kind of person that everyone loved. Everyone wanted to be close with.”
Black transgender girl Ariyanna Mitchell, 17, was shot to death while intervening in a fight at a party in Hampton, Va., April 2. Her accused killer, Jimmy Leshawn Williams, asked her if she was a boy or a girl before shooting her, according to court documents. He has been charged with murder.
Mitchell was a high school student who loved dancing and styling hair. She was in her junior year at the East End Academy and was a dancer at the Triple E (Electra Eagles Elite) Dance Academy. “She was truly unique, funny, and loved by everyone,” an online obit says. “There was never a dull moment when Ariyanna was around.”
Transgender man Ray Muscat, 26, was shot to death May 8 at his home in Oakland County, Mich. Police say he was killed by his girlfriend, trans woman Ruby Taverner, 22, who subsequently died by suicide. Her body was discovered the next day. Authorities say she also fatally shot her brother, Bishop Taverner, 24.
Muscat's interests included anime and cosplay, and fhe requently attended conventions “to have fun and show off their unmatched talent and creativity,” notes an obituary, which deadnamed him. He had worked at Meijer, a big-box retailer, for several years, and customers and colleagues there knew him “as a kind soul who had a glowing smile,” according to the obit. A Michigan native, he had been attending Oakland Community College, studying early childhood education. He and Ruby Taverner had been in a relationship for two years.
Sasha Mason, a 45-year-old Latina, was shot to death May 13 during a robbery at her home in Zebulon, N.C.
Police arrested one suspect, Ali Tariq Khabir Wiggins, the same day, and another, Julius Antwan Smith, two days later, according to TV station WNCN. They are both charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, and additional charges are likely, police said. “Wiggins was a known associate [of Mason],” WNCN reports. “Police believe the attack was targeted.”
“Sasha’s friends and family have shared on social media that Sasha will be remembered as a sweet, kind and generous person with a beautiful smile who cherished her friends and family,” notes a press release from the Human Rights Campaign.
Nedra Sequence Morris, 50, was found dead May 14 on a street in Opa-Locka, Fla. She was lying in a pool of blood. Family members say she was shot in the head at another location and her body dumped at the site. Police are continuing to investigate.
Morris’s friends and family, who called her Sequence, held a vigil at the site where she was found, with about 100 people attending. “We pray that God speaks to us, we don’t go out with a vengeance, that we know justice will be served,” a cousin told attendees, according to local TV station WTVJ.
Transgender woman Maddie Hofmann, 47, was shot to death by police in Malvern, Pa., May 19.
Police were called to Hofmann’s home to do a wellness check after receiving a report that a woman there was having a mental health crisis. Hofmann approached them outside the house, holding a handgun and a cell phone. Hofmann dropped the gun at one point, and then picked it up inside the house and struggled with an officer for it. Hofmann then pointed it at the officers, and then one of them fatally shot the trans woman.
The Chester County District Attorney's Office reviewed the footage and determined that the use of deadly force was justified because “the police officer had a reasonable belief that his life, and the lives of others, were in danger of serious bodily injury or death,” District Attorney Deb Ryan said in a press release.
Hofmann’s loved ones took issue. “Maddie’s family is devastated by this loss,” her sister Emily Flynn wrote on a GoFundMe page. “Nationwide, police are usually the first responders to people with mental health crises. They are often not trained to provide proper support and the results have been deadly and devastating. Maddie’s family wishes to elevate this important issue so that it does not happen to another person ever again.”
The money raised will go toward scholarships for Hofmann’s two children, cover some of the legal fees involved in assuring the shooting is fully investigated, and, if enough is available, start a foundation or scholarship fund for trans young people in the foster care system, according to Flynn.
Hofmann was born in Korea and adopted by an American family. They grew up in Vermont and New Jersey. They leave a wife, Rebecca Hofmann, and children aged 9 and 3.
Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway, a recent graduate of the University of Albany in New York, was found dead in her Albany apartment May 31, and police have ruled her death a homicide. The police have not disclosed how she was killed and have released few details overall. Her body was found during a wellness check requested by her mother, Jackie Powell, who had not heard from her.
Hemingway had just turned 30. She had studied at Hudson Valley Community College and then earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Albany, where she had received an award for her academic achievement and community activities. “She was always proud of who she was and so was I,” Powell told Spectrum Local News.
Brazil Johnson, a 28-year-old Black woman, died of multiple gunshot wounds June 15 in Milwaukee. Her death has been ruled a homicide. No suspect has been identified.
Johnson worked as a chef. “Bake, chef it up, loved to get in the kitchen,” her mother, Bernita Gildart, told a local TV station.
Gildart also expressed her grief and outrage. “For someone to do that so many times, that’s just hateful, so I'm looking at it like that’s just total hate,” she said. “Why would you do something like that to her, what did she do so wrong for her to deserve that kind of death?”
Shawmaynè Giselle Marie McClam was shot to death at her apartment in Gulfport, Miss., June 21. Makhari Seven Gasaway, 20, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault.
Shawmaynè had recently completed training to become a certified nursing assistant, driving to Alabama for classes, and was scheduled to start work as a traveling CNA June 27, an online obituary notes.
Kitty Monroe, a Black woman, was shot to death June 29 in Cordova, Tenn., near Memphis.
Police have arrested Samuel Ward Jr. and charged him with voluntary manslaughter, Memphis’s ABC affiliate reports. He told police he had been inside a home with Monroe, and she ordered him to leave and pulled a gun on him. They struggled, both fell down a flight of stairs, and then Ward took out his own gun and shot Monroe several times, according to a police affidavit cited by the station. He called the police from another location, and they came to the scene of the altercation and found Monroe, who died there.
Monroe is being remembered as “a beautiful person” and an animal lover; she had four dogs. “Kitty was a beautiful person; her energy was always light and fun, Jasmine Tasaki, founder and executive director of WeCareTN, a Memphis-based organization that assists trans people, said in a Human Rights Campaign press release. “Her family and friends will miss her. I hope we will hold closer to each other in this dark time. Memphis has lost another beautiful person, but we’ve gained an angel.”
Cherry Bush, 48, an unhoused trans woman, was fatally shot July 5 in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles. L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón’s office has charged Eric Antonio Sanchez, 29, with one count each of murder and attempted murder with a hate-crime allegation. Bush was "allegedly targeted based on a presumption of [her] gender identity and sexual orientation," said a press release from the D.A.'s office, which also said Sanchez shot at a bystander.
“Cherry’s status as a homeless person does not make her life less valuable or reduce the tragedy of her death,” Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents noted. “Her vulnerability as a person who had no housing is part of the larger narrative of how our society has left our trans neighbors unprotected on multiple fronts — their identities, their financial security, their housing, and more. Cherry was literally having a conversation when she was shot down simply because she existed.”
Transgender man Aaron Lynch, 26, was having a mental health crisis when police were called to his home in McLean, Va., the evening of July 7. He approached officers holding a decorative mask, which he threw to the ground, and a wine bottle, which police claimed he was wielding like a weapon.
After the police fired Tasers at him with no result, one officer, Edward George, shot Lynch four times, killing him. George is on reduced duty, and the incident is under investigation, McLean Police Chief Kevin Davis said.
Members of Lynch's family say there was no justification for the use of deadly force. "We recognize that, at times, police officers face grave and unknown dangers in the line of duty, but that was not the case for that call at our home regarding our son," said a statement released by his parents, Patrick and Kathy Lynch.
Martasia Richmond, 30, was stabbed to death July 11 in Chicago. She was found on the porch of a home there when police responded to a complaint of domestic battery. Police have arrested Daniel Burley, 31, described as Richmond’s partner. He is charged with first-degree murder but his lawyers claim he acted in self-defense.
Kandii Redd, 29, a Black transgender woman and award-winning performer, was stabbed to death July 25 in Kansas City, Mo.
There was “an argument that led to a physical altercation,” reports TV station KMBC, which misgendered her. Police found Redd in an apartment and called paramedics to treat her, but she was pronounced dead.
Redd had been a model for the adult entertainment site Grooby. “Kandii first worked for us in 2010, becoming one of the more popular models on the site and appearing in 20 scenes for BlackTgirls as well as other sites,” Grooby reports. “In 2014, she was honored as the ‘Black Tgirls Model of the Year’ at the Transgender Erotica Awards.”
She was also known by the names Dee Dee Kandii Redd and Kamila Marie Swan.
Hayden Davis, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman, was found dead on a street in Detroit July 25, her body wrapped in a blanket. She had been shot several times.
Police are still seeking a suspect. Anyone with information that may lead to an arrest is asked to contact Detroit police at (313) 596-2260 or Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAKUP.
Davis was active on social media and was interested in fashion, the Kardashian family, and cosmetics.
Acey D. Morrison, a Two-Spirit member of the Lakota tribe, was fatally shot August 21 in her hometown of Rapid City, S.D. Morrison was a “kindhearted, down to earth, joyous, respectful, and loving soul,” says an obituary published by Native Sun News. “She was a helpful and giving person who was always there for her family and friends. Acey always put a smile on others and had those around her laughing and happy. … We will remember her as who she was to each of us: authentic, and unapologetic.” No arrest has been made in her death.
Black trans woman Regina Allen, called Mya by friends, was shot to death August 29 in Milwaukee. She was 35 years old and would have turned 36 September 20. Police are searching for Clayton Hubbird, 31, who will face a charge of first-degree reckless homicide. Surveillance video shows Allen getting into a Chevy Tahoe with Hubbird at a gas station. As they approached her apartment, a witness heard them arguing and heard Allen say, “I’m shot,” according to local media. Hubbird’s vehicle was found in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb, the next day, but he remains at large. Friends have described Allen as full of laughter and joy.
Semaj Billingslea, a 33-year-old Black trans man, was shot to death September 21 just outside a motel in Jacksonville, Fla. No suspect has been identified. Billingslea was a Jacksonville native and entrepreneur who had started a cleaning business. “The character of Semaj was larger than life, and when you’re larger than life there’s always going to be haters,” his father, Tahlmage Billingslea, said at a memorial vigil. “There’s always this kind of thing that comes along when you’re out there and first to do something fully.”