❝ This year is already on track to break last year’s grim record, and two of the victims were murdered in Charlotte. ❞
Last year set a grim record for the highest number of known transgender people murdered in the U.S.
This year is on track to match, or even top, it.
It is likely that the numbers are even higher than reported, as misgendering by police, families and the media makes getting an accurate count challenging.
As we head toward Transgender Day of Remembrance, taking place on Nov. 20, we remember those we have lost, including two trans women of color who were murdered in Charlotte, N.C.
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, a Native American transgender woman who also identified as two-spirit, was killed on Jan. 1. She was found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, S.D. She studied social work and nursing, and was a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. Sioux Falls Two-Spirit and Allies released a statement mourning her death. “Our hearts are broken and we will miss her very much,” it read.
Mesha Caldwell, 41, was shot and killed on Jan. 4 in Canton, Miss. She was found alongside a rural road. Her murder is under investigation, and so far there are no suspects. Caldwell was a makeup artist and hairstylist. “She won many hair battles, and she hosted competitions in Canton for the young people, so she will be missed greatly,” her friend, Keith Dupree, said.
JoJo Striker, 23, was shot and killed, and found by police on Feb. 8 in a parking garage in Toledo, Ohio. Her mother, Shanda Striker, described her as “funny and entertaining” and said everyone loved her. “I just have a plea to the community: if you know something, anything, please stand up,” she said. Striker was the seventh transgender woman reported killed in Ohio since 2013. Most, like Striker, were transgender women of color.
Jaquarrius Holland, 18, was shot and killed on Feb. 19 during an argument in Monroe, La. Friend Chesna Littleberry said Holland was like “a little sister” to her. She added that Holland, who is said to have enjoyed fashion, hairstyling and makeup, helped her accept herself.
Tiara Richmond, aka Keke Collier
Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, was shot and killed in Englewood, Chicago, Ill. on the morning of Feb. 21. Tragically, she was found on the same street where two other transgender women of color were killed five years ago. Brave Space Alliance executive director LaSaia Wade described her as “the life of the party” and added that she was “really loved by her family.”
Chyna Dupree, aka Chyna Gibson
Chyna Dupree, 31, also known as Chyna Gibson, was a nationally known performer who was famous in the pageant and ball scenes. She lived in California, but was visiting friends and family in New Orleans, La. when she was shot and killed, on Feb. 25. “She was just a really good person,” a friend said. “Everyone loved her.”
Ciara McElveen, 21, was stabbed and killed in New Orleans, La. on Feb. 27. Friends described her as “a fun and loving person.” “She was outgoing…and she had a good head on her shoulders,” one mourner said at a vigil for McElveen. “Justice needs to be served.”
Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot and killed in Baltimore, Md. on March 22. Watson worked as a salesperson at an upscale retailer, where she reportedly excelled. “She was a very caring, passionate, fun person to be around, always in a talkative and playful mood,” her mother, Peggy Walker, said. She added that Watson loved gardening and cooking, and that she came out as transgender as a teenager.
Chay Reed, 28, was shot and killed on the morning of April 21 in Miami, Fla. A friend described Reed as full of life and beloved by many. Her parents are calling on anyone with information to speak out.
Kenneth or Brenda Bostick
Kenneth or Brenda Bostick, 59, died on May 4 from injuries sustained during an attack on April 25, in New York, N.Y. There have been numerous conflicting reports concerning Bostick’s identity as either a trans male or trans woman, or possibly gender queer. Initial media reports used the name Brenda, as well as female pronouns, until an individual claiming to be a social services provider who worked with Bostick made a post on Facebook saying Bostick identified as male. At that point, Bostick’s identity began being reported as a transgender male. Monica Roberts at TransGriot investigated and reported that Bostick was transgender femme. Since there remains confusion and controversy, qnotes has decided to include the full story and both names.
Sherrell Faulkner, 46, died on May 16 in Charlotte, N.C. from injuries sustained from an attack in November of 2016. Faulkner was found beside a dumpster, and police are investigating the death as a homicide. “We are asking leaders and community members at every level to consider both the overt and underlying reasons for these killings,” Ames Simmons, Equality North Carolina’s director of transgender policy said. “We must address the root causes of violence against our community, and we cannot rest until the violence stops.” Friends and family also remembered and memorialized her with posts on social media. Police have asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or visit their website, at charlottecrimestoppers.com.
Kenne McFadden, 27, was found in the San Antonio River, Texas on April 9. Police believe she was pushed into the river, where she drowned. She has been described by friends as “charismatic and lovable,” and is said to have enjoyed singing and writing poetry. She worked at a restaurant and had just begun transitioning.
Josie Barrios, 28, was discovered deceased at a construction site in Ithaca, N.Y. A can of gasoline was found next to her body, and a man was arrested for her murder, as well as arson. Barrios also went by the names Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé. “She would take everything negative thing that people brought about her and every aspect of her personality that could be degraded and blow it back at everyone,” a friend said.
Ava Le’Ray Barrin
Ava Le’Ray Barrin, 17, was shot and killed in Athens, Ga. on June 25 during an altercation. She has been remembered as a “social butterfly” that was “unapologetically real” and “loved to make people laugh.”
Ebony Morgan, 28, was shot and killed in Lynchburg, Va. on July 2. Police arrested Kenneth Allen Kelley Jr. on charges relating to her murder, after searching for him for several months. The Lynchburg Diversity Center and Lynchburg Transgender Alliance called Morgan’s death “a sad day for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of Virginia. And a very sad day for us in Lynchburg.”
TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, was shot and killed on July 31 in College Park, a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. She was found outside her car, in the parking lot of the apartment complex where she lived. “She was a very sweet person, very honest, and when she needed to speak up she spoke up,” said Nadia Taylor, a union organizer who added that Dangerfield was seen as an upcoming union leader.
Gwynevere River Song
Gwynevere River Song, 26, was shot and killed in Waxahachie, Texas on Aug. 12 after an altercation with an individual in their home. They identified as “femandrogyne,” as well as bisexual. “I love you so much, you are missed so much I can’t figure out how I’m going to go on,” Song’s mother, Marcy Mosher, wrote on Facebook. “I promise you I will carry out your wishes.”
Kiwi Herring, 30, was shot and killed by police on Aug. 22 in St. Louis, Mo. Police responded to a call that she had stabbed her neighbor. When confronted, Herring stabbed one of the officers. Both the neighbor and police officer survived. Her relatives have said the neighbor was transphobic and had been subjecting Herring to ongoing harassment, and that the police used excessive force. She is survived by a spouse and three sons.
Kashmire Redd, 28, was killed in Gates, N.Y. on Sept. 4. Redd was stabbed multiple times in his home by his partner and died at a local hospital. A friend described Redd as someone who “loved hard and just wanted to be loved.”
Derricka Banner, 26, was shot and killed in a car in Charlotte, N.C. on the morning of Sept. 12. The murder occurred ahead of Charlotte hosting NC Trans Pride, where Banner was among those honored. An 18-year-old man was charged for her murder. Friends described Banner as an upbeat, “go-getter” with a positive outlook on life.
Scout Schultz, 21, was shot and killed by Georgia Tech campus police. The student, who identified as nonbinary, can be seen on video approaching officers while asking them to shoot. Schultz was holding a closed pocketknife. It has been revealed that the officer who shot them had not received recommended, although not mandatory, crisis intervention training. The GT Progressive Student Alliance called Schultz “an incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights.”
Ally Steinfeld, 17, was murdered in early September, and her remains were discovered on Sept. 21, in Cabool, Mo. Steinfeld’s sister Ashleigh Boswell described her as “a very loving, outgoing person.” Actress Patricia Arquette, who had a transgender sister, Alexis, who passed away last year, was one of the donors to a GoFundMe to cover funeral expenses. “This donation is in honor of Ally,” Arquette wrote. “Who was brave enough to live her truth in a very ignorant world.”
Stephanie Montez, 47, was killed near Robstown, Texas. Officers initially misgendered Montez and found her body with multiple gunshot wounds on Oct. 21. They are continuing to investigation her murder. She used to like to dance, her friend, Brittany Ramirez, said. “She really enjoyed life. She was one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.” The Corpus Christi Chapter of PFLAG is holding a Trans Rights Rally on Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. outside the federal courthouse in Corpus Christi.
Candace Towns, 30, was found shot and killed on Oct. 31 in Macon, Georgia. She had been reported missing three days earlier. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.
“If I needed anything she would give it to me. She would give me the clothes off her back,” Malaysa Monroe, her best friend remembered.
Towns had been the victim of anti-trans violence in the past, having been shot in the ankle in 2009 just blocks from where her body was found.
Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson
Brooklyn BreYanna Stevenson, 31, was found murdered in the early hours of Monday morning, Nov. 27, one week to the day after Transgender Day of Remembrance. Her body was discovered by police in an Oklahoma City motel room. They were responding to a report of a disturbance. No arrests have been made and no suspects have been made, and at time of writing it is unclear if her gender identity played a role.
“We are heartbroken. Brooklyn BreYanna was an amazing daughter, sister and friend with a giving and loving heart,” her family said in a statement. “We pray that those who committed this heinous crime will be identified and Brooklyn will receive justice.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to assist in covering burial costs. Police are asking anyone with information to call the homicide tip line at 405-297-1200.
Brandi Seals, 26, was found murdered in Houston, Texas on Dec. 13. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots in early media reports that misgendered her, as did the police.
No suspects have been named so far, and those with information are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.
Seals’s aunt, Maria Cheeks, called her “a loving person” and “a beautiful person.” The community remembered her with two different vigils, one at the site where her body was found and another at Houston City Hall.
Every year we also lose countless numbers of transgender, and gender nonconforming and non-binary people to suicide, which disproportionately impacts the community.
For those experiencing suicidal thoughts, or who are considering self-harm, reach out to a local LGBTQ support services organization, such as Time Out Youth, Center Genderlines or Transcend Charlotte, or call the Trans Lifelife at 877-565-8860. Those ages 24 and younger can also call the Trevor Project Lifelife at 866-488-7386, or text “Trevor” to 202-304-1200.