At least 27 transgender Americans were murdered in 2017, making it the deadliest year on record for the trans community. Sadly, 2018 is already on track to outpace that, with at least six victims reported since January.
At the current rate, this year will surpass last year by October.
Much of the coverage of these victims fixates on their deaths. Below, we honor the lives they lived and the people they touched.
Note: This is a living document, and will be updated with new information and entries as they come to light.
Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42
Christa Leigh was well known in the Massachusetts transgender community for her activism and for founding the Miss Trans New England and Miss Trans America beauty pageants.
“Her thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and [we] need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful,” said longtime friend Justin Adkins.
Another friend, Ben Power, organized a rally after her death to celebrate Christa Leigh’s life and bring attention to the epidemic of anti-trans violence. “I decided… it was time to make some noise,” said Power.
Christa Leigh was killed on January 5, the first known anti-trans homicide of 2018. Her husband has been charged with her murder.
Celine Walker, 36
Celine’s friends remember her as a strong and resourceful woman, who eschewed clubs and pageants: “[She] lived a low key life [and] did whatever needed to be done in order for her to survive.”
Celine was killed on February 4.
Tonya Harvey, 35
Tonya, who also went by Kita, lived in Jacksonville, Florida. Friends remarked that “not only was she beautiful, she was strong.”
She was killed on the morning of February 6.
Zakaria Fry, 28
Zakaria, who lived in Albuquerque, was remembered fondly by loved ones. “You took care of me and loved me like family,” wrote one friend on Facebook. “I’ll forever love you. I’m sorry.”
Her body was found on February 19.
Phylicia Mitchell, 46
A hairstylist from Cleveland, Phylicia is survived by her longtime partner, Shane, who praise both her strength and her kindness. “She was my soulmate,” he said. “We did everything together. We always held hands on the bus. Years ago people didn’t respect that, but they do now.”
Phylicia was killed on February 23.
Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28
Amia, who lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, worked at Alliance Home Health Care. She was misgendered and dead-named in initial reports of her death.
Amia’s body was found on March 26.
Sasha Wall, 29
Sasha lived in Pageland, South Carolina, near the North Carolina border, and worked at Pilgrim’s Pride, a food production company. She is remembered by friends and loved ones as warm and friendly.
Her body was found on the morning of April 1.
To learn about hate violence and other issues facing transgender Americans, visit the National Center for Transgender Equality.