Say Their Names: 2021 was a deadly year for Black and Brown trans, gender non-conforming people
The number of transgender women and men, along with gender non-conforming people, killed by violent crime grew from the previous year.
Fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people reached an all-time high in 2021. At least 50 individuals from the community were shot or killed by violent means, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
The LGBTQ+ advocacy organization reports that it is saying only “at least” because often times crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people go unreported. However, HRC was able to confirm and identify 44 people from the community who were taken by violent means.
That number has continued to grow since the organization started collecting the data in 2013 and to date a majority of the lives taken are Black and Latinx trans women. A segment of the community who remain vulnerable due to extreme racism and poverty. In the same vein, HRC through its tracking also issued a word of caution that more and more violence is happening against trans men and other races.
This year, the White House after seeing the report from HRC issued a statement on the deaths. White Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet “This year is the deadliest on record for transgender and non-binary people. It’s unacceptable.” Jean-Pierre also added, “The march to end this epidemic of violence continues.”
TheGrio wanted to honor the people who were lost this year through this memorial gallery. Through the Human Right Campaign (HRC), we were able to find out more about some and very little about others. Here are their names and stories.
Tyianna Alexander, who was also known as Davarea Alexander, was a 28-year-old Black trans woman was shot to death in Chicago on Jan. 6. Friends of Tyianna at the time of her death remembered her as having “good energy” and being “a beautiful light.”
Bianca “Muffin” Banks, a Black transgender woman in her early 30s was killed in Atlanta on Jan. 17. Bianca was nicknamed Muffin by her close friends because of her love for blueberry muffins.
Dominique Jackson, a Black transgender woman, according to her Facebook account was the Mother of the House of Redd and Founder of The Lady Redd Inc. She is remembered on social media as an important and valued member of the community. Dominique was shot to death in Jackson, Mississippi on Jan. 25.
Fifty Bandz, a 21-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Jan. 28. Local media reports say she was killed by a man with whom she had been in a relationship with for more than a year. She was remembered by friends during a vigil and memorial.
Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, was 45 at the time of her death. Alexus was killed in Miami, Florida on Feb. 4. According to her Facebook page she was a hairstylist. Her mother Tatiana Braxton at the time of her death told HRC that law enforcement, state officials and local politicians have no sense of urgency to address the growing epidemic of trans deaths.
Chyna Carrillo, a Latinx 24-year-old transgender woman, whose name was also Chynna Cardena. Chyna was killed in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania on Feb. 18. According to local reports, Carrillo was a nursing home worker who had moved to Pennsylvania from Arkansas to start a new life. Her friends say she was confident, outspoken, and unapologetic about who she was.
Diamond Kyree Sanders, a Black transgender woman, was 23-years-old at the time of her death. Diamond was shot to death on March 3 in Cincinnati, Ohio and she was described by family members as “beloved.”
Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latina trans woman, was killed on March 17 in Los Angeles. Former colleagues remember Rayanna as someone who brought life to the party. Her brother, Armando Rangel Jr., said at the time of her death “Everyone should love everyone, at the end of the day that’s all we have.”
Jaida Peterson, a Black trans woman, was 29-years-old at the time of her death. Jaida was killed on April 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Local trans rights activist in Charlotte held a vigil to remember her on April 9. Friends of Jaida posted to social media that she would truly be missed.
Dominique Lucious, a Black transgender woman, was 26-years-old at the time of her death. Dominique was shot and killed on April 8 in Springfield Missouri. According her presence on social media she was a huge fan of the television show “Empire.”
Remy Fennell, a Black transgender woman in her 20s, was shot to death in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 15. She is remembered by friends as a vibrant young woman who was just trying to make it. Remy, according to local reports, started her own business after graduating from cosmetology school.
Tiara Banks, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Chicago on April 21. Local news reports say Tiara was sitting alone in her car when the shooter approached and shot multiple times.
Natalia Smut, a Black and Puerto Rican transgender woman, was 24 at the time of her death. Natalia was killed on April 23 in Milpitas, California. According to friends she was a celebrated drag artist in the San Jose LGBTQ community.
Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx transgender woman, was killed in Houston, Texas on April 23. Media reports say Iris was sitting at a picnic table enjoying a meal when an unidentified suspect approached and shot her.
Tiffany Thomas, a 38-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Dallas, Texas on April 24. Friends remember Tiffany as someone who had a “big heart,” who was “funny” and stayed laughing. She was also described as being extremely stylish.
Keri Washington, a Black transgender woman, was 38 at the time of her death. Keri was killed on May 1 in Clearwater, Florida.
Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, a 41-year-old Indigenous non-binary person, was shot to death in York, Pennsylvania on May 3 and later died on May 4. Whispering Wind, who described themself on their social media as “Shawnee by birth and Potawatomi by relations” often shared photos of meaningful quotes on Facebook.
Sophie Vasquez, a 36-year-old Latina transgender woman, was shot and killed in Brookhaven, Georgia on May 4. Friends and family remember Sophie on social media with one person sharing that Sophie was “the kindest person on the planet.”
Danika “Danny” Henson was also known as Pryynce Daniel and Niia Da Don on Facebook. The 31-year-old Black transgender woman was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland on May 4. Henson also may have identified as gender fluid, according to the HRC. According to family, Henson had just begun transitioning.
Serenity Hollis, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Albany, Georgia on May 8. According to social media, Serenity was from Orlando, Florida and had moved to Albany, Georgia in 2019.
Thomas Hardin, a 35-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed on May 2 in York, South Carolina. According to local news, friends have shared Hardin “identified as a woman,” continued to use the name Thomas and used both he and she pronouns.
EJ Boykin, also known as Novaa Watson, was a 23-year-old Black transgender man killed in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 14. The HRC learned that EJ was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but moved to Lynchburg. He was studying at Morgan State University.
Aidelen Evans, a Black transgender woman, was 24 at the time of her death. Aidelen was found dead in March in Port Arthur, Texas. Aidelen was originally from Beaumont, Texas.
Taya Ashton, a 20-year-old Black trans woman, was killed in Suitland, Prince George’s County, Maryland on July 17.
Shai Vanderpump, a Black trans woman, was killed in Trenton, New Jersey on July 30. Shai was 23 at the time of her death.
Tierramarie Lewis, a 36-year-old transgender woman, was killed on June 12 in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time of her killing there was no media coverage and The Buckeye Flame, later reported that she had moved to Cleveland for a fresh start.
CoCo Chanel Wortham, also known as Miss CoCo, a 44-year-old transgender woman of color was fatally shot in Dallas, Texas on August 7. According to Nu Trans Movement, Miss CoCo was frequently in encampment areas of downtown Dallas with others who experienced homelessness. She was described by people who knew her as being a small girl with a big bubbly personality.
Pooh Johnson, a Black trans woman, was killed in Shreveport, Louisiana on Aug. 23. Pooh was 25 at the time of her death. She was known as an accomplished makeup artist under the name Titanizer.
Disaya Monaee, a 32-year-old Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Chicago, Illinois on Sept. 6. Not much else has been reported on her or the investigation into her death.
Briana Hamilton, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Chicago, Illinois on September 17.
Kier Lapri Kartier, a 21-year-old Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 30. She was from Dallas and graduated from Skyline High School. She is remembered by friends on social media as a “very strong, independent person.”
Mel Groves, a Black trans man, was fatally shot in Jackson, Mississippi on Oct. 11. The 25-year-old was a plant soil scientist at Alcorn State University who loved agriculture and animals. He was also an active member of The Knights & Orchids Society, a southern centered grassroots startup founded and led by Black, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people supporting gender justice and LGBTQ visibility.
Royal Poetical Starz, a 26-year-old Black trans woman, was fatally shot in Miami Gardens, Florida on Oct. 2. Royal was a graduate of Florida Career College Vocational School. On social media, she was remembered as “the life of the party.”
Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, a 20-year-old Latina trans woman, was fatally shot in Maple Valley, Washington on Aug. 31. Her body was later found in Seattle and initial reports did not recognize Zoey as transgender until her family confirmed her identity.
Rikkey Outumuro, also known as Tru Starlet, was a 39-year-old Latina transgender woman who was fatally shot in Central, Washington on Oct. 30. She was a popular and well-loved member of the Washington LGBTQ+ community.
Marquiisha Lawrence, a 28-year-old Black trans woman, was fatally shot in South Carolina on November 4.
Jenny De Leon was a 25-year-old Black transgender woman found dead in Tampa, Florida on Nov. 2. De Leon attended PFLAG Tampa (an organization for LGBTQ+ people, their families and allies) meetings and sought their help when she began transitioning.
Angel Naira, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot at her home in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania on Nov. 11. Naira was a graduate of Aliquippa High School and Beaver Falls Beauty Academy and worked full time in home health care.
Danyale Thompson, a 35-year-old Black trans woman, was killed in Memphis, Tennessee on Nov.13. According to her Facebook profile Danyale celebrated her 35th birthday in March. A Memphis native, she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 2002 and studied at the University of Memphis.
Nikai David, a 33-year-old Black trans woman, was a model and social media influencer who aspired to one day own her own clothing boutique. Nikai had celebrated her birthday a week before being fatally shot in Oakland, California on Dec. 4.
Kelsey Minor is a 2x Emmy award-winning freelance journalist based in New York City. You can find his work on Twitter @theKELSEYminor.