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 12 victims reported since January.
Much of the coverage of these victims fixates on their deaths. Below, we honor the lives they lived and the people they touched.
Please 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 Buffalo, New York. 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.
Carla Patricia Flores-Pavón, 26
Carla lived Dallas, Texas, and is remembered fondly by her friends, who called for an end to anti-transgender violence: “I met you very little, but it was always very nice to chat and laugh together… [I will] remember you with love and with that smile you always had,” wrote one friend on Facebook.
Her body was found in her apartment on May 9.
Nino Fortson, 36
Nino, who reportedly identified as genderqueer, lived in Dallas, Texas, was a member of their local ballroom scene. They are remembered by their partner, Tera.
Nino died on May 13.
Gigi Pierce, 28Getty Images
Few outlets have provided personal details about the life of 28-year-old Gigi Pierce, a trans woman from Boise, Idaho, who resided in Portland, Oregon.
Gigi lost her life on May 21.
Antash’a English, 38CBS 47
Antash’a, a black trans woman and nightclub performer from Jacksonville, Florida, is remembered fondly by her friends. “She was an unapologetic, bold, and loyal person,” friend Taliyah Smith told First Coast News. “We met years ago while at a gay pageant. We both were entertainers.”
She was killed early in the morning on June 1.
Keisha Wells, 54Phil Lewis/iStock/Getty Images
Keisha, who was also known to family members by the nickname “Pokey,” became the second transgender person killed in Cleveland, when her body was discovered in the parking lot of an apartment complex with gunshot wounds to the abdomen. Her aunt, Regina Spicer, told Cleveland.com she was loving and funny, and a “tough cookie” who stood up for herself but was also kind.
James Butler, 27, is charged with complicity to aggravated murder for helping dispose of her body.
Cathalina Christina James, 24
Cathalina Christina James, a trans woman of color in her 20s, has been killed in Jacksonville, FL. Violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color, must stop. https://t.co/9NtNsvCRRU pic.twitter.com/dd1bW53I1a
— GLAAD (@glaad) June 28, 2018
Cathalina, a transgender woman in Jacksonville, Florida, lost her life on June 25. She hailed from Bishopville, South Carolina, and her death marked the third fatal shooting of a transgender woman in Jacksonville in 2018 alone.
She is remembered by her mother, who told First Coast News that Cathalina “loved to dance and travel.”
Sasha Garden, 27
Sasha, a trans woman of color living in Orlando, Florida, worked as a sex worker and dreamed of becoming a hairstylist. She is remembered fondly by those who knew her, including Mulan Montrese Williams, an advocate for transgender women at a local HIV/AIDS nonprofit. “[Sasha] was traveling a lot, trying to find a new home and find herself,” Williams told Orlando Weekly.
Sasha was killed on July 19.
Diamond Stephens, 39
Diamond, a trans woman of color living in Mississippi, was misgendered in initial reports of her death. It wasn’t until more than a month later that she was properly identified as transgender.
She is remembered by friends and family, who held a candlelit vigil for her after her body was found in June.
Dejanay Stanton, 24
Dejanay, a black transgender woman living in Chicago, was found shot in the South Side. She was taken to the hospital where she died from her wounds.
Dejanay was identified by LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance, who shared “we lost another sister” and expressed a desire for justice and for peace for her family. Wade said her friend always “had a smile on her face” and was “just trying to live her best life as a young girl.”
Vontashia Bell, 18Louisiana Trans Advocates/Supplied
Vontashia, who lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, was also discovered by first responders on August 30 suffering from gunshot wounds, taken to the hospital, and passed away from her injuries.
“Vontashia Bell must not die in vain,” Louisiana Trans Advocates said in a statement. “Her murder is a reminder of the current climate and national discourse on trans issues…As we mourn the loss of Vontashia, we must double down our efforts to ensure that all trans people across the state have access to jobs, education, housing, and safe neighborhoods.”
Shantee Tucker, 30
Shantee, a black transgender woman living in Philadelphia, lost her life to gun violence on September 5, shortly after celebrating her 30th birthday. Her friend Tatyana Woodard, who works for the Mazzoni Center, the city’s largest LGBTQ healthcare provider, remembers her as “a very genuine person, a very real person, down-to-earth.”
London Moore, 20
London, a black trans woman in North Port, FL, was found dead by police due to gun violence. LGBTQ advocates in her area are pushing for local police to investigate her death as a hate crime. She is remembered by her parents, who are “broken-hearted” by her death and hope to see the person responsible brought to justice.
London was killed on September 8.
Nikki Enriquez, 28
Nikki, a Latino trans woman, was shot and killed in Laredo, Texas, allegedly one of at least four victims of a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent. Her body was recovered along Interstate 35. She was died on September 15.
Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, 31
Ciara, a blank trans woman living in Chicago, was a member of her community’s ball scene. She is remembered by local LGBTQ activists, including LaSaia Wade, executive director of the trans advocacy group Brave Space Alliance, who expressed frustration at “a lack of [concern]… for our safety from police.”
Ciaria lost her life on October 3.
Tydi Dansbury, 35Getty Images
Not much is known about the life of Tydi, a black trans woman living in Baltimore, who lost her life on November 26. Police have yet to formally identify her, but members of Baltimore Transgender Alliance, a local advocacy group, released her first name and organized a vigil for community members in her honor on November 30.
Roxsana Hernández, 33
Today, @HRC sent Freedom of Information Act requests to @ICEgov and @CBP for the release of all records related to the detention and death of Roxsana Hernandez, a trans woman who died while in the custody of ICE after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. https://t.co/zwbwoSU4WU
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) July 26, 2018
Roxsana was a transgender asylum seeker from Honduras who died in federal custody in May after she was detained by ICE on the U.S.-Mexico border. (Her autopsy results revealed signs of abuse, and the Transgender Law Center has filed a lawsuit in her name. ICE reps have repeatedly denied any allegations of abuse.)
She’s remembered by her loved ones, friends, and fellow undocumented immigrants detained alongside her, who called Roxsana humble, sincere, and candid.
Kelly Stough, 36
A metro Detroit church pastor is in jail on $1 million bond charged with murder in the killing of a transgender woman, Kelly Stough, in Detroit earlier this month. https://t.co/zg7e57vQuN
— Niraj Warikoo (@nwarikoo) December 12, 2018
Kelly was a black transgender woman living in Detroit. She was shot and killed on December 7. Kelly is remembered by her friends, loved ones, and mother, Jessica Chantae Stough, as a courageous, vibrant member of her local ballroom scene.
“I want [people] to know that transgender ladies—expressly those of color—they’re just not throwaways,” Jessica Chantae told NBC News. “People care about them.”
To learn about hate violence and other issues facing transgender Americans, visit the National Center for Transgender Equality.