In the past two weeks, at least five trans women have died as violence toward transgender and gender-nonconforming people increases.
Pride Month just wrapped up, and the trans community continues to face a heightened risk of violence because of "a toxic mix of transphobia, racism and misogyny," the Human Rights Campaign stated.
CBS News reported that many killings in the trans community are either misreported or unreported as community leaders rally for awareness about anti-transgender violence.
The following five trans women have all died within the past two weeks. One of the deaths has not yet been ruled a homicide.
Bree Black was shot to death in Pompano Beach, Florida, on Friday. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is searching for the person who killed the 27-year-old after she was found on the ground with gunshot wounds.
Police said they are hoping the public will help them identify the person behind her death.
This isn’t getting any coverage!
— Black Lives Matter (@thxitsthetrauma) July 5, 2020
Shakie Peters was killed near Amite, Louisiana, on Wednesday.
Peters' body was found on Opal Bennett Road outside of Baton Rouge, The Advocate reported. Like with Black, police have no leads in the 32-year-old's case. Her family members had to correct the sheriff's department after she was misgendered in the police report.
“Shakie was a very independent person and very loyal to her friends. She was full of laughter and an abundance of life,” said Peters' friend Natahalie Nia Faulk, who added that she met Peters at the funeral for another trans woman.
“It’s traumatizing whenever we see [a killing] because we think, 'will they be honored in their death?' It’s a personal violence and whenever we die, often police or others don’t recognize the life that came before it. This is systematic and not an isolated incident,” Faulk told The Advocate.
In a statement to The Advocate, the Louisiana Trans Advocates said it is important for local leaders to speak out about Peters' death and that the constant misgendering of trans women makes it hard for activists to count the number of trans deaths in the country.
"Amite and Louisiana leaders must speak out against these killings, against the ongoing, systemic devaluation of trans people that pervades our media and politics, and against the institutional racism that places almost all of this burden on trans women of color," the statement read.
Multiple news outlets also reported on the death of Draya McCarty in Baton Rouge, but her death has not yet been ruled a homicide. Some news outlets have said McCarty was killed, but it is unclear what happened.
Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign's Trans Justice Initiative, said the recent killings were part of a larger epidemic of deaths that are overwhelming the trans community and advocates.
“In just four days, we have seen the deaths of at least three transgender and gender non-conforming people, including Shaki Peters. This horrific spike in violence against our community must be an urgent call to action for every single person in this nation. This is the deadliest period we have on record," Cooper said.
"While we are still awaiting facts on the ground, it is clear that members of our beloved community are being killed because of who they are. Racism, toxic masculinity, misogyny and transphobia are destroying lives and taking away our loved ones. I am heartbroken. I am furious. When will our country stop killing us?” Cooper continued.
During Pride Month, multiple Black trans women were killed in attacks that led to protests in a number of cities across the country, as Blavity previously reported.
In the last week of the celebratory month, Brayla Stone was found dead, adding another name to the long list of those lost recently.
Police in Sherwood, Arkansas, found Stone's body on June 25, KLRT reported.
Unconfirmed reports have circulated of a man bragging about killing Stone and saying he was paid $5,000 for the deed.
Her murderer boasting about her death pic.twitter.com/L254wmM8ZF
— Lauryn (@1thirty1) June 26, 2020
“Brayla Stone was a child. A child, just beginning to live her life. A child of trans experience. A young Black girl who had hopes and dreams, plans and community. As a nation, we failed Brayla — as we have failed every transgender or gender non-conforming person killed in a country that embraces violence and upholds transphobia, racism, homophobia. Guns are not as important as people,” Cooper said.
If you wish to help seek justice for Stone, you can sign the petition here.
According to USA Today, Merci Mack was found shot to death in a parking lot in Dallas on June 30, the last day of Pride Month. Police have not identified suspects in the shooting of the 22-year-old.
Justice for Merci Mack! pic.twitter.com/PtxJbyMyLI
— Codie???????? (@auntie_codie) July 1, 2020
Although many attacks on transgender women and men go unreported, the trans deaths reported thus far this year show an increase from the 11 deaths recorded during the same period last year, according to CBS News.
There has been an increase in violence and bias directed toward gender identity in recent years, according to data from the FBI. The data shows that in 2018 there were 184 hate crime offenses against transgender or gender-nonconforming people, CBS News reported.
To support organizations advocating for Black trans lives, click here.