2020 was historically deadly for the transgender community. A record 45 trans people were violently killed last year, eclipsing the previous high of 31 in 2017. As usual, transgender women of color were disproportionately impacted by the violence. The true number of victims will never be known, as many go unreported or are misgendered in death.
Sadly, 2021 is proving even more deadly with two transgender women murdered on the same day in the first week of May. Sophie Vásquez, 36, a Latinx transgender woman, and Danny Henson, 31, a Black transgender woman, were both murdered inside their own homes on Tuesday, May 4. Vásquez was shot and killed in Brookhaven, Georgia, while Henson was shot and killed in Baltimore, Maryland. Vásquez was active within Community Estrella in Atlanta, and Henson was described as a loving person and a loyal friend.
Listed below are the 23 known violent killings of transgender people so far this year, making it on pace to be the deadliest ever for the transgender community.
Tyianna “Davarea” Alexander, 28, a Black transgender woman, was shot in the head while walking with a friend in Chicago early on the morning of Wednesday, January 6. She was pronounced dead at the scene in the city’s Greshman neighborhood. Her friend, 31-year-old Brandon Gowdy, was shot in the arm and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Samuel Edmund Damián, a Latinx transgender man, was found dead in Puerto Rico on Saturday, January 9. His bullet-riddled body was left in the middle of a dimly lit highway where it was run over by an unsuspecting driver. Police indicated Damián suffered gunshot wounds over multiple parts of the body, suggesting a certain level of rage by his killer.
Dominique Jackson, 30, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Jackson, Mississippi, January 25. Police discovered her fatally wounded body inside a vehicle that had struck a utility pole, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Initial police and media reports misgendered Jackson.
Friends and family describe Jackson as “sweet and kind," with dreams of competing on RuPaul's Drag Race.
Fifty Bandz, 21, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 28. Fifty was reportedly killed by a man she had been in a relationship with for over a year. Family, friends, and local advocates released balloons in her memory and plan on holding a memorial service for her as well.
Alexus Kimmy Icon Braxton, 45, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, February 4. The daughter of a board member of the Hollywood, Florida, LGBTQ Council, her lifeless body was found by police in a Miami condominium complex. Police have released few details regarding the case, but are investigating her death as a homicide. Family and friends are devastated by the loss, saying she was also proud of overcoming obstacles in her life.
Chyna Carfillo, 24, a Latinx transgender woman, was brutally beaten to death in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania on February 18. Her assailant, a convicted murderer named Juana Carter Hernandez released from prison in 2019, was shot and killed by police while beating Carrillo with a blunt object. Carrillo, who also was known as Chynna Cardena, was taken to an area hospital where she died a short time later. The much-loved nursing home worker had recently moved to the area to start a new life, and friends and coworkers fondly remember an outspoken and unapologetic woman.
Jeffrey Bright (left), 16, a transgender young man, and his nonbinary sibling, Jasmine Cannady (right), were shot and killed by their mother in Pennsylvania on February 22. Known as JJ to friends and family, the fun-loving teen known for his jokes had been presenting as male since the age of 11. Cannady was described by friends as sweet, shy, and artistic. Police in Ambridge said Krisinda Bright first shot and killed Jasmine, then shot JJ in the face after he pleaded for his life.
Jenna Franks, 34, a white transgender woman, was found murdered in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on February 24. City workers clearing a ditch discovered her lifeless body in an adjacent wooded area, and police recently announced they are now investigating her death as a homicide. Despite pleas from GLAAD, Equality North Carolina, and others to update their records and reporting, The Jacksonville Daily News, CBS-affiliate WNCT-TV continue to deadname and misgender Franks.
Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, 23, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Ohio March 23. Police in Clifton rushed Sanders to an area hospital in the early morning hours after finding her suffering from an unspecified number of gunshot wounds, but she later died. She was remembered as a “ball of energy” who valued her family. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, but have given little information on the crime and possible suspects.
Rayanna Pardo, 26, a Latinx trans woman, was struck by a car and killed while fleeing from a small mob in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday, March 17. Security video showed Pardo being chased and assaulted by a group of people on S. Eastern Avenue and E. 5th Street in East Los Angeles. It is unclear at this time if Pardo ran into the street or was pushed by the mob. Her family and friends described a loving person who was trying to live authentically, and are asking investigators to file murder and hate crime charges against those responsible for her death.
Aidelen Evans, 24, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Port Arthur, Texas, March 18. Police discovered the remains of Evans in a canal, but have released few details about her death. However, her death is now being investigated as a homicide. Evans was misgendered and deadnamed in initial reports on the incident.
Dominique Lucious, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Springfield, Missouri, last Thursday, April 8. Lucious, 26, was reported killed by Charles Nelson, 28, after the pair met online. Nelson was arrested by police later that day. Family and friends of Lucious remember a warm and loving person who loved who she was and tried to help others, and will be dearly missed.
Jaida Peterson, 29, a Black transgender woman, was killed April 4 in North Carolina. Police in Charlotte-Mecklenburg were called to a hotel where they found Peterson unresponsive in a room. She was pronounced dead at the scene, but no further details have been released. Charlotte Uprising held a fundraiser to cover the burial and funeral costs for Peterson’s family.
Remy Fennell, 28, a Black transgender woman was found in a hotel room on Thursday, April 15, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fennell was shot and killed in a case with disturbing similarities to that of Jaida Peterson, who was shot and killed in a Charlotte hotel room less than two weeks earlier. Both victims were sex workers, increasing concern by police and activists for those engaged in the practice. Friends remember Fennell as a vivacious person who was well-known in the area as hair stylist Remy Kreations.
Tiara Banks, 24 a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Chicago, Illinois. According to Human Rights Campaign, Banks was seated alone in her car around 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, when someone approached and shot her multiple times. Police are investigating whether gender identity was a motivating factor in her murder.
Natalia Smüt, 24 an Afro-Rican transgender woman, was stabbed to death in Milpitas, California, last Friday, April 21. Police responding to a report of a person with a knife wound to the neck found a gravely injured Smüt. She was taken to a local hospital where she died a short time later. Police have charged her boyfriend, Elijah Cruz Segura, 22, with her murder.
Tiffany Thomas, 38, a Black transgender woman, was shot to death in Dallas, Texas, on April 21. Police found Thomas around 1:45 a.m. unresponsive on the ground at a car wash on American Way. She was died at the scene a short time later. Witnesses in the area told police they heard gunshots in the vicinity around midnight. Thomas was misgendered by media, police, and family following her death.
Iris Santos, 22, a Latinx transgender woman, was shot and killed in Houston, Texas, April 23. Police report Santos was seated at a picnic table around 9:30 p.m. outside a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Westheimer Road when a man approached and shot her. Santos was rushed to a local hospital where she died. Police released video of the suspect and asked for the public’s help in bringing the killer to justice.
Jahaira DeAlto, 42, a transgender woman, was one of two women stabbed and killed in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on Sunday, May 2. Police say Marcus Chavis brutally murdered both his wife and DeAlto in front of their two young children ages 7 and 8. Both children were unharmed and a dog found with stab wounds laying next to DeAlto’s body survived. DeAlto was a legend within the ballroom community, both as an activist and also as a member of the House of Balenciago.
Two transgender women in separate states were shot and killed inside their homes on May 4th, as the nation’s violence against trans folks continued at a record pace for the year. El Nuevo Georgia reported Sophie Vásquez, 36, a Latinx transgender woman, was shot and killed in her apartment just outside Brookhaven, Georgia, while WMAR reported Danny Henson, 31, a Black transgender woman, was shot and killed inside her home in Baltimore, Maryland. A GoFundMe page has so far raised over $5,400 to help cover Vásquez’s funeral expenses. Like many other transgender victims of violence, Vásquez was misgendered and deadnamed in police reports, while Henson was also misgendered by some witnesses.