There has now been a record-setting number of killings of transgender or gender non-conforming people in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
On Saturday, 33-year-old interior decorator Felycya Harris was shot and killed in Meadowbrook Park in Augusta, Georgia, according to CBS News. Harris' death is at least the 31st violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the United States.
She is the fourth trans or gender non-conforming person to be killed in the last three weeks.
Local news outlet WRDW reported that Harris' body was found in Meadowbrook Park around 1 p.m. with at least one gunshot wound. Police said it was being classified as a homicide and they are still searching for potential suspects.
The same news outlet later spoke with friends of Harris who were at a loss of words over her death. Her friend Ricola Collier said she was just with her.
“I went outside and we were just sitting in the car, laughing and talking and jiving on each other. Only thing we got left now is just the memories and the pictures, and the videos. Since the day I found out what happened, I go back and watch the videos every day," Collier said.
“I just want justice to be served for my friend. Everybody’s going to remember Felycya. That laugh. The smile — the smiles. The talks. The arguments. The attitudes. Everybody is going to remember who Felycya Harris is. Nobody would ever forget who that is,” Collier added.
This world is so cruel! You definitely didn’t deserve this Felycya Harris. Praying for her family and close friends! ????????❤️????
— Von (@vonlondon18) October 4, 2020
The Human Rights Campaign said Harris was a well-known interior decorator who was well-regarded for her ability to improve spaces so people could feel comfortable. In addition to running her own company, she worked for a furniture store and taught dance classes locally, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
“With news of the death of Felycya Harris, we have hit a grim milestone: We have now matched the highest number of transgender or gender non-conforming people who were victims of fatal violence in one year — and there are three more months left in the year,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement.
“This epidemic of violence, which is particularly impacting transgender women of color, must and can be stopped. We must work to address the factors that underpin this culture of violence and openly discuss how the intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia work to deprive transgender and gender non-conforming people of equal access to opportunity and necessities like employment, housing and health care,” David added.
The organization told CBS News that it is difficult to track the number of trans killings because so many go unreported or people are deadnamed and misgendered. The vast majority of trans people killed this year were Black trans women and the previous record for deaths in one year was 25 in 2017.
Harris is the fourth trans or gender non-conforming person to be killed in the last three weeks.
Trans advocate Angela Bales told The Augusta Chronicle that the community was desperate for justice for Harris.
“We don’t know what happened — only God knows. We’ve got to have some sort of justice for her,” Bales said.
If you or someone you know is in need of help or experiencing a crisis call Trans LifeLine at 877-565-8860.