At least 23 transgender/gender-nonconforming people were murdered over the last 12 months in the United States, making 2015 one of the worst in recent years in terms of anti-trans violence.
Worldwide, at least 81 trans people were murdered in 2015. And those are just the victims who are reported and acknowledged as trans women and men. Many trans people are mis-gendered by police, media and by family members who have refused to accept their identities.
The year started with four trans women being murdered, including 24-year-old Ty Underwood in Tyler. Underwood was shot to death in her car as she tried to drive away from her ex, Carlton Ray Champion. Champion was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison during a December trial.
Six months later, on July 29, the body of Dallas trans woman “Miss Shade” Schuler, 22, was found in a field near Dallas’ Medical District. So far, Dallas police say they have no information and no suspects in her murder.
The trans murders this year intersected with the very public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, the former patriarch of the Kardashian clan who celebrated her transition by being photographed in lingerie for the cover of Vanity Fair. While Jenner’s story certainly put transgender people and issues in the public eye in an unprecedented way, there were many longtime trans activists who felt that her right-wing, conservative tendencies, fame and more than healthy bank accounts, proved that she was more than a little out of touch with the plight of most transgender people and not in a position to speak for the community.
There were also some who felt that the frenzy of publicity surrounding Jenner and her numerous reality TV shows may have contributed to the anti-transgender violence, considering the vitriol aimed at Jenner amidst all the publicity.
It is important to note that the majority of those killed this year were transgender women of color, prompting activist to take up the mantra of “Black Trans Lives Matter.” It is also important to point out that many activists include a number of trans people who committed suicide this year in the roll of those lost to anti-trans hatred.
Transgender murder victims reported in 2015 included:
JANUARY: Papi Edwards, 20; Lamia Beard, 30; Ty Underwood, 24; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33. FEBRUARY: Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36; Penny Proud, 21; Bri Golec, 22; Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46. MARCH: Keyshia Blige, 33; Maya Hall, 27. MAY: London Chanel, 21; Mercedes Williamson, 17. JUNE: Jasmine Collins, 32. JULY: Ashton O’Hara, 25; India Clarke, 22; K.C. Haggard, 66; Shade Schuler, 22. AUGUST: Amber Monroe, 20; Kandis Capri, 35; Elisha Walker, 20; Tamara Dominguez, 36. OCTOBER: Kiesha Jenkins, 22; Zella Ziona, 21.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016.