Remember Their Names: All the Transgender People Killed in 2016
While lawmakers have been proposing—and in North Carolina’s case, passing—anti-transgender legislation, transgender people are being killed at an unprecedented rate. The year 2015 saw an all-time high in reported killings of trans people in the United States: 21 by the time of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance in late November. And 2016 is on track to be just as violent. This year’s victims range in age from 53 to just 16. Most were black or Latina trans women, many of whom were misgendered and misnamed by local media. Here are their faces and stories.
Monica Loera, 43
North Austin, TX
Monica Loera, a 43-year-old Latina transgender woman, was shot to death in front of her North Austin home on Jan. 22 by a man she was seen arguing with outside. One of her friends told the Chronicle, “She was funny [and] beautiful… She loved Madonna and she loved to cook.” Others called her “warm” and “vivacious.”
Jasmine Sierra, 53
Latina transgender woman Jasmine Sierra, 53, died under suspicious circumstances in late January but, as KERO reported, many friends were unaware of her passing until March because police and local media in Bakersfield, California, misgendered her after her body was found. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots on the night of her death.
Kayden Clarke, 24
Arizona cops shot Kayden Clarke, a 24-year-old transgender man with Asperger’s, after he allegedly lunged at them with a knife during a suicide call. In his last YouTube video, he said that doctors were denying him hormones because of his Asperger’s: “I don’t know what to do. I’m stuck.” He also claimed to have tried “suicide by cop” before.
Maya Young, 25
As WCAU reported, police found Maya Young stabbed in her neck and chest, on a Philadelphia street on the night of Feb. 20. The 25-year-old black transgender woman died in the hospital. A man and a woman were arrested for the murder. A friend told the Inquirer, “She loved people and she loved being around people. She was a dreamer.”
Demarkis Stansberry, 30
Baton Rouge, LA
Demarkis Stansberry, a 30-year-old black transgender man living in Baton Rouge, was fatally shot in the head by a friend who claimed that he thought the gun was empty at a New Year’s Eve party. The New Orleans Advocate reported that Stansberry worked two jobs and intended to marry Myesha Brown, his girlfriend of four years.
Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, 16
Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, a black gender-fluid Iowa 16-year-old who used both names, was found shot to death in an alley on March 2. Police are still investigating. One friend told the Des Moines Register that the kind and stylish teenager “was a bright spot of sunshine, and the world is a little darker now.”
Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, 32
Los Angeles, CA
Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, 32, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend on the afternoon on March 23 in front of several witnesses in downtown L.A. Loved ones have been mourning the transgender woman on Facebook for months. On May 8, her mother remembered: “My baby always called me on Mother’s Day. I miss my precious love.”
Shante Thompson, 34
As KHOU reported, Houston transgender woman Shante Thompson was beaten with a crowbar or a tire iron by a large group of men, stabbed, and finally shot on April 11. Her mother Leola said that the men responsible had been bullying Thompson “for a long time” before the fatal attack.
Keyonna Blakeney, 22
Montgomery County, MD
Two men from Southeast D.C. were charged with murder and robbery after Keyonna Blakeney, a black transgender woman, was found stabbed to death in a Maryland motel room. Blakeney celebrated her 22nd birthday just days before her April death. On Facebook, one friend had written, “Happy birthday. May you see many more.”
Reecey Walker, 32
Reecey Walker, a 32-year-old black transgender woman, was repeatedly stabbed to death on May 1 by a boy half her age in the Wichita apartment complex where she worked. The mother of the 16-year-old said that he was defending himself from an attempted sexual assault; Walker’s friends and family disputed those claims.
Mercedes Successful, 32
Haines City, FL
Mercedes Successful began transitioning weeks before being shot. On May 15, the 32-year-old black transgender woman and performer was found dead in a Haines City, Florida, parking lot. One of her last Facebook posts was a Mother’s Day note: “You’ve been not only a mom for my siblings and I but for all my friends. I love you.”
Amos Beede, 38
A year and a half into his transition, transgender man Amos Beede, 38, was brutally beaten by five people after an apparent dispute between two Vermont homeless encampments, dying six days later from a brain injury. Beede’s sister Ida McKinney told WPTZ, “We wanted him to wake up and he couldn’t. He couldn’t wake up.”
Goddess Diamond, 20
New Orleans, LA
On June 5, Goddess Diamond, a 20-year-old black transgender woman, died of “blunt force trauma” and was left in a burning car in New Orleans, as The Advocate reported. A man was spotted on surveillance footage leaving and returning to the car with a container of gasoline. Diamond worked at Walmart and was remembered as “very loved” and “very kind.”
Deeniquia Dodds, 22
Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds was shot on the Fourth of July and left in a D.C. street. She was taken off life support nine days later, as WRC reported. The 22-year-old black transgender woman was remembered by her family as “a beautiful person” who “loved to make you laugh.” A police investigation is ongoing.
Dee Whigham, 25
St. Martin, MS
Dee Whigham, a 25-year-old black transgender woman and RN, was in Mississippi in late July to see a rodeo when she was found stabbed to death in her hotel, the Sun Herald reported. Navy Seaman Dwayna Hickerson was charged. After Hickerson’s arrest, Whigham’s sister wrote, “It feels crazy looking at the person that has selfishly changed your life forever.” Autopsy results released in September and reported by WCMH showed that Whigham was stabbed 119 times "with most to her face" and that her throat had been slashed three times.
Skye Mockabee, 26
As Cleveland.com reported, 26-year-old Skye Mockabee was found dead with signs of head trauma in a warehouse parking lot on July 30, making her the fourth transgender woman killed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in the last four years. According to her Facebook profile, she worked at a Chipotle.
Erykah Tijerina, 36
El Paso, TX
Police found the body of Erykah Tijerina, a 36-year-old transgender Latina woman, inside an El Paso apartment with “obvious signs of foul play,” KFOX-14 reported. Her sisters told the TV station that Tijerina was “funny, giving and unapologetic about the person she was.” Another friend told KTSM: “She just wanted to be treated like anybody else.”
Rae’Lynn Thomas, 28
Rae’Lynn Thomas, a 28-year-old black transgender woman, was allegedly shot and beaten by her mother’s ex-boyfriend, James Allen Byrd, as WBNS reported. Rae’Lynn’s mother Renee told WBNS that Byrd had long disapproved of her daughter’s transition and even called her “the devil” before shooting her. Rae’Lynn’s final words: “Mom, please please don’t leave me. Mom, I’m dying.”
T.T. Saffore, 28
On the evening of September 11th, 28-year-old T.T. Saffore was found dead “lying near railroad tracks” with her “throat slit,” the Chicago Tribune reported. Although major Chicago newspapers misgendered Saffore, the city’s LGBT newspaper Windy City Times spoke with her friends and family who said that the slain transgender woman was a “happy cheerful person,” and a “great gymnast.” Jaliyah Armstrong, who organized a vigil, told the Windy City Times that another woman had threatened Saffore with a knife just days before the homicide, adding, “People don’t know what we go through out here. They don’t see the struggle being transgender on the West Side.”
Crystal Edmonds, 32
At around 3 AM on September 16th, Baltimore police found Crystal Edmonds, a black transgender woman, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, the Associated Press reported. She died later that morning in a hospital. Police are offering a cash reward of up to $2000 for information related to the homicide. Key’Ayshia Tucker, a local transgender advocate, told WMAR that violence against transgender women in Baltimore is all too common, noting that “[they] are looked at, not as people, but as an object that has no value.”