Yet another Black transgender woman has suffered a violent death in America. Aerrion Burnett, 37, was found dead of a gunshot wound in Independence, Missouri, in the early morning hours of September 19. She is believed to be the 27th transgender or gender non-conforming person to die violently so far this year.
"I and everyone in the trans community are mourning Aerrion's death," Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Council's director of community engagement for the transgender justice initiative, said in a statement. "As we remember her, we continue to call for justice for all trans and gender non-conforming people."
According to KCTV News, police were called to the scene at 13th and Brookside around 3:40 a.m. Saturday, where they found the body of Burnett in a grassy area next to the roadway. She was already dead and suffered from a gunshot wound, but authorities have provided no further details.
"Aerrion was a Barbie," Korea Kelly told KITV Island News at a vigil held Tuesday. Describing her friend as "a goddess," Kelly remembered Aerrion as "the person you wanted by your side."
Burnett's best friend and transgender woman Dee Dee Pearson was also violently killed in the area. Pearson was murdered on Christmas Eve in 2011 by a man became enraged when he learned she was transgender after the pair had sex.
"As a friend, and both of those are my friends who both got killed the same way, and being a Black trans woman myself, that hurts like hell," Kelly continued. "It's a pain that I can't fathom. It's a pain that I don't know how to fathom or to tell anyone how I'm feeling."
Sadly, Burnett's death continues the trend of transgender and gender non-conforming persons violently killed in the country. Burnett is believed to be the 27th victim to date, although it is difficult to provide an accurate number as many are misgendered following their death while families and authorities often insist on deadnaming the victim as well. Others are simply unreported. Burnett was reportedly misgendered and deadnamed in reports.
"Black transgender women are being killed at horrifying rates in this country," Cooper added. "HRC has already seen as many violent deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people this year as we tracked all of last year. This level of violence is staggering, and it cannot continue."
Authorities are asking that anyone with information to contact the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.