25-Year-Old Black Trans Woman Shot and Killed in Tennessee

Say her name: Angel Unique.

2020 continues to be the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans.

Angel Unique (also reported as Angel Haynes), a Black trans woman, was fatally shot at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sunday, October 25, HRC has confirmed. Unique was a licensed cosmetologist. She was just 25 years old and looking forward to celebrating her 26th birthday in December.

Takia Weddle, Unique’s best friend, told local news station ABC 24 that she is still in disbelief. Unique wasn’t even living in Memphis when she died; according to Weddle, she was only in town for one night.

“Everybody that knew Angel knew that she was very funny, very nice to everybody she met,” Weddle said of her best friend.

Family and friends gathered in Unique’s hometown of Jackson this past Friday, October 30, for a vigil honoring her life. A GoFundMe was also created to cover her funeral expenses.

Unique’s tragic death marks the 34th known transgender homicide in the U.S. this year alone, a staggering single-year high. As NewNowNext previously reported, 2020 was declared the deadliest year on record for trans Americans after a surge of back-to-back homicides in September and October.

In a statement, Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, mourned Unique’s untimely death:

We have lost yet another Black trans woman to deadly violence in this country. Despite the fact that we are living through the coronavirus pandemic, transgender and gender non-conforming people are also still facing an epidemic of violence. We are also living in an extremely vitriolic period, where hate, prejudice, racism and transphobia are fueled by many in power. This is contributing to a rise in animosity and an increase in fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people. We need our allies to take action to support us today and every day. As we mourn Angel’s loss along with her friends and family, we will continue working for an end to this senseless violence.

Rest in power, Angel.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.