GLAAD calls for increased and accurate media coverage of transgender murders

This page is updated regularly as new deaths are reported. Please see resources below on how to write stories about transgender people who have been victimized by crime, and additional resources for writing about the violence that affects transgender people, especially transgender women of color.

Below are the transgender people lost in 2018 that we know of. Click on their names for more information about their lives and their death:

  • Sasha Garden, a trans woman of color, was killed on July 19th in Orlando, Florida. She was 27 years old.
  • Keisha Wells, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 24th in Cleveland, Ohio. She was in her 50s.
  • Cathalina Christina James, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 24th in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 24 years old.
  • Diamond Stephens, a trans woman of color, was killed on June 18th in Meridian, Mississippi. She was 39 years old.  
  • Antash’a Devine Sherrington English, a trans woman of color, was killed in Jacksonville, Florida. She was 38 years old.
  • Gigi Pierce, a trans woman of color, was killed on May 21st in Portland, Oregon. She was 28 years old.
  • Nino Fortson was killed on May 13th in Atlanta, Georgia. Nino was 36 years old.
  • Nicole Hall was found dead on May 12th in Dallas Texas. She was 39 years old.
  • Karla Patricia Flores-Pavón was killed in Dallas, Texas, on May 9. She was 26 years old.
  • Sasha Wall was killed on April 1 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. She was 29 years old.
  • Amia Tyrae was killed on March 26 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was 28 years old.
  • Phylicia Mitchell was killed on February 23 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was 46 years old.
  • Zakaria Fry was reported missing on January 18 and her remains were found on February 18 in Stanley, New Mexico. She was 28 years old. 
  • Celine Walker was killed on February 4 in Jacksonville, Flordia, but due to misgendering by police and the media, she was not identified as a transgender woman until February 9. She was 36 years old.
  • Tonya Harvey, also known as Kita, was killed on February 6 in Buffalo, New York. She was 35 years old. 
  • Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien was killed on January 5 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She was 42 years old.
  • Viccky Gutierrez was killed on January 10 in Los Angeles, California.

* Initial reports from Jacksonville, Florida speculated that homicide victim Jessie Sumlar may have identified as transgender, but Jessie’s friends, family, and social media all note that he identified as a gay man. In a Facebook post, Jacksonville Transgender Awareness Project stated that Jessie was a gay man who did drag, and that the Black gay and transgender communities in Florida are very afraid following his death, given the four recent homicides of transgender women of color in Jacksonville and Orlando. Because Jessie often presented in a traditionally feminine manner, it is possible that Jessie’s murder was motivated by anti-trans hate, even though he himself did not identify as transgender. Please note that this statement is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but is subject to change pending the release of new information from local advocates.

*GLAAD is also looking into details related to reporting around the homicide of Carrell Ray, roommate of Zakaria Fry, and will update this post with additional information when and if it becomes available.

GLAAD is calling on the media to:

  • Report on the brutal violence perpetrated against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. With violence against transgender people at an all-time high and rising, national media coverage is severely lacking. The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack. In order for people to be aware of the horrific violence affecting the community, the public needs to know it is happening. The media has a responsibility to communicate about the deadly realities faced by transgender people.
  • Respect and use the lived identity, name, and pronoun of the victim. Report on each victim with dignity and respect, portraying them as a person, not just a statistic. Disregarding the victim's gender identity and misgendering them in news reports adds further insult to injury, compounding the tragedy by invalidating who the victims were. GLAAD's Doubly Victimized: Reporting on Transgender Victims of Crime offers clear guidelines for reporting respectfully on stories where transgender people have been victimized by crime. GLAAD's Media Reference Guide also offers a glossary of terms and best practices for fairly and accurately covering transgender stories.

As necessary, GLAAD reaches out to media outlets to correct incidents of irresponsible reporting where misgendering and victim-blaming occur. We also work with local communities and advocates, connecting them to journalists to confirm information about the victims. If you see a news story which misgenders a transgender victim and/or publishes details about their personal life irrelevant to their murder, contact us at transgender@glaad.org.

    Background

    Victims of anti-transgender violence are overwhelmingly transgender women of color, who live at the dangerous intersections of transphobia, racism, sexism, and criminalization which often lead to high rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. While some homicides have not yet been identified as hate crimes due to lack of information about the perpetrators or motives, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports an alarming multi-year trend showing that transgender women experience a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group.

    In 2017, 26 transgender people were killed in the United States and nearly all of the victims were transgender women of color. This number does not include transgender people whose deaths were not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and sometimes by the victim's family.

      Additional Resources: