Marquiisha Lawrence, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman, was found by family members fatally shot in her home on Loop Street in Greenville, South Carolina, on November 4. Her death marks the 46th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. Crime reports and obituaries often list individuals who identify as trans as their gender assigned at birth, so the numbers are likely much higher.
According to her Facebook page, she listed her current profession as “exotic dancer.” She had previously resided in Spartanburg where she posted that she studied at a local beauty college to become a stylist. Other posts on her profile indicated she worked as a cook at the Copper River Grill in the nearby town of Greer and had lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at some point.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has now officially recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021 than any year prior. Previously, the highest number of fatal deaths of trans or gender non-conforming individuals reported over a 12-month period was last year in 2020, when 44 deaths were officially reported.
“Marquiisha, like so many who have gone before her, fell victim to a senseless murder,” said Eboni Sinclaire, Lawrence’s friend, who also identified as her trans mother. “Quii was a young trans woman, at the beginning of this game called life, as we know it in the trans community. She was a very humbled, free thinker who was loved by many. She will forever be remembered by her infectious smile and her heart of gold. Her favorite thing to do was to cook because she felt it filled the belly and fed the heart. One of our last conversations she said to me, ‘I’ve not always been the best I could be, but thank you for caring enough to still be here for me.’”
From all indications, Lawrence was largely accepted and supported by her immediate family. A post on her older brother Jeffery Martin’s Facebook page confirmed the two were close: “I love you to the moon and back,” he wrote on Facebook, with a picture of the two of them together, his arm around her and clearly after she had made the decision to live her life as Marquiisha. A funeral service was held for Lawrence by her family in Greer, South Carolina on Sunday, November 14, with interment following at Brown Eternal Gardens in Greer.
“With 45 recorded deaths, we’ve reached yet another tragic milestone this year. Marquiisha was clearly loved by so many,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.
“She deserved to live, but her life was stolen from us far too soon. We must commit to honoring trans lives and ending the horrific epidemic of violence that plagues our community. Marquiisha deserved nothing less than our full commitment to building a better future for trans people.”
Although additional specific details are scant, the Coroner’s Office of Greenville County has confirmed Lawrence was found dead in her home after an “altercation with one or more individuals” and that she died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The case has been labeled as a homicide and the investigation is continuing.
Lawrence’s death follows recent reports of the slaughter of three other trans people.
Jenny De Leon, 25, was found dead outside of a home in Tampa, Fla. on November 2. De Leon’s sister said she was “a wonderful person with a beautiful soul who touched the lives of those around her.” De Leon attended PFLAG Tampa meetings and sought their help when she began transitioning.
Rikkey Outumuro, a 39-year-old Latina transgender woman, was shot to death in Centralia, Washington, on October 30. Her boyfriend, Cristopher Allen Gaudreau, has been charged with murder and is being held without bail.
The body of Jessi Hart, a 42-year-old trans woman, was found dead near Portland, Oregon on October 27. Investigators reported she had been dead for two weeks at the time her body was recovered. She is survived by a 13-year-old son, Caleb. The two had reportedly been living in a nearby motel.