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‘Tragic’: U.S. Records Deadliest Year In Trans Deaths In 2021

On this Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience, we honor those whose lives were taken.

As the U.S. observes its annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience (November 22), America is grappling with the grim reality that violence against trans people is at an all-time high.

With the deaths of transgender women in South Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania in early-November, 2021 has become the deadliest year for transgender and gender nonconforming people in America, according to USA Today. Forty-seven members of the trans community have been killed to date – three more than in 2020, which was previously recorded as the deadliest year.

“We are at a tragic and deeply upsetting moment,” Joni Madison, interim president of Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, which has tracked such fatalities since 2013, the news outlet writes.

RELATED: Trans Day of Remembrance: Activist Raquel Willis Reminds Us That All Black Lives Matter

The death toll rose to 47 with the killings of Marquiisha Lawrence, 28, Jenny De Leon, 25, and Angel Naira, 36. The Human Rights Campaign also notes that the death count doesn’t include victims who are misgendered by authorities, as Lawrence initially was, or whose deaths go unreported.

According to USA Today, De Leon, a Latina transgender woman, was found dead Nov. 2 in Tampa, while Lawrence, a Black transgender woman, was found dead at her Greenville, South Carolina, home on Nov. 4 after what authorities said was an altercation with two other people.

Naira, a Black transgender woman who worked in home health care, was found fatally shot at her home in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, the report says.

More than 250 transgender individuals have been killed in 37 states since 2013, said Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Laurel Powell. Transgender women of color account for four of every five victims, she said.

These instances of fatal violence are part of a cycle of stigma that transgender people face, including lack of family acceptance, a hostile political climate and denial of opportunities, Powell added.

Madison, interim president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the continuing violence to rising transphobic rhetoric “stoked by people who hate and fear transgender people and the richness of their experience.”

“Dehumanizing rhetoric has real-life consequences for the transgender community,” she said, according to USA Today, noting several anti-transgender bills being introduced in state legislatures nationwide. “They have attacked transgender people’s right to health care, right to exist in public and right to live openly, with the ultimate goal of dehumanizing and erasing their lives and experiences.”

At a White House press briefing last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the record death count “devastating.”

“That’s terrible and heartbreaking to hear,” she said. “It is a commitment of the president to address violence, address threats to transgender people and anyone who’s facing those threats.”


In remembrance of those members of the trans community whose lives were stolen, BET remains committed to ending the violence by supporting Black trans-led initiatives and organizations, as well as, calling out transphobia wherever it shows up in our communities, families, schools, workplaces, and other institutions. Provided by the Human Rights Campaign, here’s a list of some of those individuals who were killed and self-identified as transgender or non-binary and Black. Click on their names to find out more about their lives.

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