We Honor Those Lost in 2020

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

This year, forty-two Americans have lost their lives due to transphobia and hate. That’s Forty Two that we know about. There are likely many more who’s identities were hidden or unreported.

Murders of transgender people are up over 50% this year and according to the FBI, hate crimes based on gender identity increased by 20% this past year. Today and tomorrow and beyond, please reach out to a transgender person – to the transgender community – and let them know that you care, that you are an ally, and that you stand with them and will defend them.

We hope that you will join us in a ceremony to honor these individuals and learn their stories on Saturday, November 21st at 4pm in the Allentown Arts Park. Social disitancing and mask wearing will be required and the event will be live-streamed on the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project page.

You can learn more about the infividuals we will be honoring below:

Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was reported missing on June 6, 2019.  On Dec. 7, a hiker found her skull in the woods near Larch Mountain.  Police arrested David Bogdanov and charged the 25-year-old with her murder.  Bogdanov said that Nikki revealed her transgender status to him and that it was “offensive to his culture.”

Yahira Nesby, 33, was killed in Brooklyn, New York in an act of gun violence on December 19, 2019.  Her friends and family commented on social media about her death, calling Nesby “a good spirit,” “genuinely good people,” and said “Every time [Nesby was] around [she] put a smile on my face and others.”

Mia Penny, 26, was killed by armed members of a private security company who were responding to a call about an intruder in a vacant DC apartment building.  According to the security guards the “man” they shot at evaded capture.  Mia’s body was in the building the following day.

Dustin Parker, 25, was fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. His employers released a statement shortly after his death, remembering Parker as “a steadfast friend, an amazing husband and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives.”

Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on February 24. According to Metro Puerto Rico, members of her community knew her as “humble” and “noble.”

Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed in Moca, Puerto Rico, on March 5. Arocho, a transgender man, shared his love for basketball and the NBA — donning Miami Heat apparel on social media. The biography line on his Facebook reads simply, “Humility Prevails.”

Scott DeVore, a 51-year-old gender non-conforming person, was killed in Augusta, Georgia. Scott also identified as Scottlynn Kelly DeVore and appeared to have been presenting as Scottlynn when leaving home for the last time on March 14.

Many have called Devore “sweet” and “beautiful.”

Monika Diamond, 34, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18. Diamond was active in the Charlotte LGBTQ and nightlife community and was the co-owner of an event promotion company. She also was the co-CEO of the International Mother of the Year Pageantry System — a pageant that honors LGBTQ mothers.

Lexi Sutton, 33, a transgender woman, was killed in Harlem, New York on March 28. According to reports, Lexi was fatally stabbed in Harlem River Park. “I really looked up to her because of her tolerance and respect,” said Lavonia Brooks, a friend of Lexi. “Lexi had a beautiful heart, she was very gifted.” Brooks also noted that Lexi loved poetry, makeup and fashion.

Ashley Moore was just 26  years old when she was found  dead outside the YMCA in  Newark, New Jersey, on April  1.  Police deadnamed her and did  not investigate her murder for  133 days.

Johanna Metzger, a transgender woman, was killed in Baltimore, Maryland on April 11. According to reports, she was visiting a Baltimore recovery center from Pennsylvania at the time. Johanna was known for her love of music and taught herself to play multiple instruments.

Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Ramos was killed alongside Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21. According to reports, Ramos was visiting the island on vacation, and was set to return to her home in Queens, New York, at the end of the month. Loved ones are mourning her death, calling her “full of life,” a “happy person,” and a “sincere friend.” On May 1, two men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Ramos’s death.

Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 21. Sánchez was killed alongside Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos. According to reports, Sánchez had recently moved to the island, and was living in the Tejas neighborhood in Las Piedras. On May 1, two Puerto Rican men were charged under federal hate crimes law for Sánchez’s death.

Penélope Díaz Ramírez, a transgender woman, was killed in Puerto Rico on April 13. “Penélope did not deserve to die. Transgender people do not deserve to die. Every single advocate, ally, elected official and community member must stand up in light of this horrific news and say ‘No more.’ What we are doing is not enough,” said Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Nina Pop, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3. She was deeply loved by her family, friends and community, according to her Facebook page.

Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, a transgender woman, was killed in San Antonio, Texas, on May 6. O’Regan was proud of her trans identity and on Twitter, she often spoke out against injustice, including the LGBTQ inequality, the prison industrial complex and the need to decriminalize sex work. Damion Terrell Campbell, 42, has been charged with O’Regan’s murder.

Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was killed in Tallhassee, Florida, on May 27. His friends and family shared how he was an energetic, giving person with a big heart.

Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a Black transgender woman was killed in Philadelphia, Pennsyania, on June 9. One personal friend posted online, “Dom was a unique and beautiful soul who I am lucky to have known personally. I am beside myself right now. We need to fight!! We need to do more!!!! We will get justice.”

Riah Milton, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Liberty Township, Ohio on June 9. In March, she posted the status “Never been scared to struggle. Imma get it eventually” — a comment highlighting her resilience and optimism as a person facing a transphobic, misogynist and racist society.

Jayne Thompson, a 33-year old white transgender woman, was killed in Mesa County, Colorado, on May 9. She was killed by a Colorado State Patrol trooper and misgendered in initial news reports.

Selena Reyes-Hernandez, a 37-year old transgender woman, was killed in Chicago on May 31. “We have lost a beloved member of our trans family because of hate — hate that has corrupted our country’s soul and that shatters lives and futures every day,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Brian “Egypt’ Powers, a 43-year old Black transgender person, was killed in Akron, Ohio, on June 13. Powers worked at a local catering company and is remembered for wearing long, colorful braids — “unicorn braids,” as Powers called them.

Brayla Stone, a 17-year old Black transgender girl, was found killed in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 25. “Brayla Stone was a child. A child, just beginning to live her life. A child of trans experience. A Black girl. A person who had hopes and dreams, plans and community,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. On September 4, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.

Tatiana Hall, 22 was from Irvington  New Jersey.  Her body was found in Philadelphia in late June.  Officials have not released information about her death.

Merci Mack, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Dallas, Texas, on June 30. Her loved ones shared how beautiful of a friend she was. On her social media, she had recently posted that she enjoyed baking and that she was looking forward to returning to work. On July 8, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.

Draya McCarty, 32, of  Hammond Louisiana.  Her body was found in late June.  Officials have not released a cause of death.  Louisiana Trans Advocates claims the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office — the same department investigating Shaki Peters death — has not provided adequate information about her case to the public, nor to McCarty’s family.

Shaki Peters, a 32-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Amite CIty, Louisiana, on July 1. “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,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.

Bree Black, a 27-year-old Black transgender woman, was killed in Pompano Beach, Florida, on July 3. “These killings are being fueled by the deadly combination of racism and transphobia, and they must cease. We must come together as a community and demand justice for those who were taken from us,” said Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for HRC’s Trans Justice Initiative.

Summer Taylor, a white non-binary person, was in Seattle, Washington, on July 4. Taylor was participating in the Black Femme March in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Taylor worked full time at Urban Animal veterinary hospital.

Marilyn Cazares was a transgender Latina killed in Brawley, California. Mindy Garcia, an aunt of Cazares, said she “loved to sing and dance” and “never bothered anyone.”

Dior H Ova, who some reports identify as Tiffany Harris, a Black transgender woman, was killed in the Bronx, New York. According to her Facebook, Ova loved fashion — listing her career as a personal shopper and posting photos with luxury fashion brands that she loved. On August 13, a man was arrested on a murder charge in connection to her death.

Queasha D Hardy, a 22-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 27. Hardy, a hairstylist, was extremely loved by her community. Friends and loved ones describe her as loyal, loving, “always smiling,” “the life of all parties” and “truly one of a kind.”

Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Lafayette, Louisiana, on August 12. “We must all speak up in support of trans and gender non-conforming people and affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Kee Sam, 24, of Lafayette, Louisiana, was found suffering from a gunshot wound in a hotel on NE Evangeline Thruway on  Wednesday, August 12. She was rushed to a local hospital but passed away from her injuries the following day.

Aerrion Burnett, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Independence, Missouri, on September 19. Her friends and family shared “if you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.”

Mia Green, a 29-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Philadelphia on September 28. Her friends and family shared how “her smile was so perfect and so contagious. She made me laugh.”

Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a transgender woman from Puerto Rico in her mid-30s, was killed in San Germán, Puerto Rico on September 30. “This level of violence— any level of violence — is unacceptable. We are not doing enough to protect transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially trans women,” said HRC’s Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Felycya Harris, a 33-year old transgender woman, was killed in Augusta, Georgia in October. Felycya was an interior decorator who ran her own company where she enjoyed lending her eye to improve the surroundings of others, and made others feel comfortable in their own space.

Brooklyn Deshuna, 20, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 7. Brooklyn attended Bossier Parish Community College and studied cosmetology.

Sara Blackwood, a transgender woman, was killed in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 11, recognized as National Coming Out Day. She enjoyed playing video games and was a fan of the show “My Little Pony.”

Angel Unique, a 25-year old Black transgender woman, was killed in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 25. A licensed cosmetologist, friends and family of Angel remembered her for being “very funny, very nice to everybody she met” and “such a bright person [with] a positive spirit.”

Yuni Carey, 39, was a well-known and important person in the LGBTQ community in South Florida was killed by her husband on November 17th.  A beloved drag and pageant performer, she was the first trans person to change her Cuban passport to match her gender identity.  “She was talented and loved by many,” said her friend Alexis Fernandez.