It’s not even May as I write this, and already nine trans women have been brutally murdered this year. At least nine, that is—doubtless there are those women who just “disappeared” or remain unidentified.
On April 21, 28-year-old Chay Reed was shot to death in Miami as she ran away from an unknown assailant. Reed is the ninth trans woman of color to be murdered in 2017.
“She was a light, always trying to make everyone around her happy,” longtime friend Patina Peterson told Mic. “I don’t even remember her getting into anything. I don’t remember seeing her in an altercation out there with anybody in a bad way. I’ve never seen that.”
Police say they are still on the lookout for her killer.
In 2016, there were at least 26 transgender people who died from violence in the U.S, the highest on record. At this rate, we’ll break that in July.
Below are the nine transgender women whose murders have been confirmed.
Mesha Caldwell, 41, was found shot multiple times on a road in Mississippi on January 4. She was a popular and talented makeup artist, described as “a happy person that loved everyone and never met a stranger.”
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, was found dead in her Sioux Falls, South Dakota, home January 6. “Our hearts are broken as we will miss her very much,” said friends of Wounded Arrow, a two-spirit Lakota,
JoJo Striker, 23, was found dead in a garage in Toledo on February 8. She suffered a single gunshot wound to the torso. Police do not have a suspect or motive.
Jaquarrius Holland (Brown), 18, was shot in the head in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 19.
KeKe Collier, 24, was shot multiple times while sitting in a car with a man in Chicago on February 21. “She loved to dance all the time,” said a friend of Collier, who was also known as Tiara Richmond. “She was always the life of the party. Even when we got into fights, she didn’t want to fight.”
Her death marks the second killing of a transgender woman in Chicago in six months.
Chyna Gibson, 33, was shot 10 times in New Orleans on February 25. She was going to be a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding in Houston.
Ciara McElveen, 21, was stabbed to death in New Orleans on February 27. Police believe she was pulled out of a car, run over and left her for dead.
Alphonza Watson, 38, was shot to death in Baltimore on March 22. Witnesses reported hearing someone yelling for help and then hearing gunshots. Later, two men were seen speeding away in a dark vehicle.
Chay Reed, 28, was shot to death on April 21. Police are still on the lookout for the attacker. According to close friends, Reed was a bright and boisterous person who was “always trying to make everyone around her happy.”
This story has been updated to include both Watson and Reed.