Sara Ramirez
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Natalia Smüt, Local Drag Legend, is 17th 2021 Trans Person Killed

Natalia Smüt, Local Drag Legend, is 17th Trans Victim of Violence in 2021

Natalia Smüt, 24 a Black, Puerto Rican transgender woman, was stabbed to death in Milpitas, California, last Friday. Smüt , a local drag legend, is the 17th reported transg person to be violently killed so far in 2022, and the second trans victim of violence in less than a week.

According to a report in the East Bay Times, Smut was stabbed to death Friday night in the Northern California city of Milpitas by Elijah Cruz Segura, 22, of nearby Union City. Segura, 22, was arraigned Tuesday where he faced charges of murder with a weapon enhancement for the use of a knife in the killing, but he did not enter a plea during his brief courtroom appearance.

Sadly, she is the 17th trans victim of violence so far this year, and the second in less than a week. On Wednesday, April 21, Tiara Banks, 24, a Black trans woman, was seated alone in her car in Chicago, Illinois, around 10:00 p.m. when someone approached and shot her multiple times. She was pronounced dead at the scene and police are investigating whether the killer was motivated by Banks’s gender.

Smüt was a beloved local entertainer and trans activist, and over a hundred people attended a vigil in her honor on the steps of the San Jose City Hall Saturday. On Tuesday following Segura’s court appearance, friends and family mourned her loss.

“My sister was amazing,” Venessa Sing, Smüt’s sister, told reporters after the arraignment. “She was the strongest, most beautiful, and courageous person I know, and now we all have to live without that light in the world.”

Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise said Segura called 911 early Friday morning to report a person was suffering from a cut to the throat. When police arrived, they found a mortally wounded Smüt and a bloodied Segura. Smüt was transported to a local hospital were she died, while Segura was immediately taken into custody by police. Police said the two were dating although it was initially clear if the pair were living together.

Tori Copper, director of community engagement for the transgender justice initiative at the Human Rights Campaign, described the violence against the transgender community as “unacceptable” and said it must be stopped.

“According to reports, Natalia was killed by someone she was dating,” Cooper said in a statement. “She did not deserve to have her life cut short by someone she should have been able to trust. We need everyone to speak up and push back against the atrocious amount of stigma and violence faced by transgender people, particularly Black and Brown trans women.”

Smüt was remembered fondly by the local community. The Project MORE Foundation said the actress and entertainer “was known best for her motivating and creative spirit, captivating performances, and her love for advocacy within the community.”

While the community mourns, Singh also demanded accountability while admitting it would never be enough to replace her sister.

“I want to see that justice served and that Elijah spends the rest of his life in jail,” Singh said. “But there will never be enough justice for me because my sister is gone.”

RELATED | Tiara Banks Is 16th Violent Trans Killing in 2021 — 16 Weeks In

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