Story at a glance

  • Transgender and gender-nonconforming people, especially racial minorities, face high rates of identity-based violence.
  • At least 19 transgender Americans have been killed so far this year, nearly half as many as were killed all last year.
  • In April, seven transgender women of color were killed in the Untied States.

The United States continues to be on track for another record-breaking year of violence against the transgender community after seven transgender women of color were killed in April alone, bringing the total number of reported deaths to 19. 

This year is already outpacing last year’s count of at least 44 reported killings of transgender or gender-nonconforming Americans — more than any year recorded before — although the actual number may be higher due to underreporting and misreporting of transgender identities. On this day last year, Nina Pop became the 11th transgender person killed in 2020, most of whom were Black or Hispanic.  


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On the last day of April, Natalia Smut was stabbed at a home in Milpitas, Calif., and later died of her injuries at a local hospital, reported the East Bay Times. Her boyfriend turned himself in and has been charged with her murder. Smut, aBlack and Puerto Rican transgender woman and drag queen originally from San Jose, was 24. 

Just two days earlier, Tiara Banks, another 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was reportedly killed in Chicago.


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"This past weekend, we’ve received multiple reports of fatal violence against transgender people. This violence is unacceptable, and we must do everything in our power to stop it. According to reports, Natalia was killed by someone she was dating. 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," said Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement. 

More than half of transgender and gender-nonconforming people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life, according to a recent report, and many incidents of fatal violence are committed by someone that knew the victim. Last year, hate crimes motivated by bias against gender identity increased by 20 percent, according to the FBI, among a record number of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies — which again, is likely higher. The killings continue as state lawmakers across the country consider legislation to restrict the rights of transgender youth in education and health care. 


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Published on May 03, 2021