News (USA)

Three trans women reported dead by violence in January, a fourth in December

Memorial candles with the trans flag overlayed
Photo: Bil Browning/Shutterstock

The violent deaths of three trans women in January and one in December have been reported.

In the latest incident, a trans woman and her mother were shot dead in a targeted home invasion in Chicago. Three other women are hospitalized in critical condition.

The shooting took place in a second floor courtyard apartment in the city’s South Side on Tuesday afternoon. Unique Banks, 21, and her mother Alexsandra Olmo, 43, were killed at the scene.

The five victims were ambushed by two young men in ski masks, one dressed in camouflage, who demanded money before opening fire. One of the five victims, another trans woman shot seven times, managed to escaped and made her way to a nearby McDonald’s, where she called for help.

The mother of that woman told Fox affiliate WFLD she believes there was a connection between the perpetrators and one of the victims, and that the shooting was a hate crime. “They don’t have a good heart,” she told reporters.

In Wilmington, NC, a 27-year-old trans woman, KC Johnson, was reported missing and presumed dead. She was last seen on or about January 12. Police believe she was killed by William Hicks, 26, of South Carolina, who was charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and kidnapping.

Police say Hicks and Johnson met on social media. The suspect was arrested in Myrtle Beach, SC on a fugitive warrant and is being held in a South Carolina jail.

On Friday, several dozen people attended a candlelight vigil and march for Johnson, led by the LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast. While Johnson’s remains have not been located, police are investigating the recent discovery of a body in Savannah, GA.

Earlier this month in Washington, DC, a trans woman was discovered in her apartment with a mortal stab wound. Jasmine “Star” Mack, 36, was found by authorities responding to a wellness check. She was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to the office of the chief medical examiner. 

While a press release from the Metropolitan Police Department and early media reports from The Washington Post and others deadnamed Mack, friends confirmed to NBC 4 Washington she was trans, including longtime trans activist Earline Budd.

“There has to be some way that there can be peace, and the violence must stop. The violence has to stop,” she told the news outlet.

This week, the Human Rights Campaign also shared news of the death of Destiny Howard, 23, who was found shot to death in Macon, GA on December 9. Her body was discovered in the parking lot of a software business.

No motive for the murder has been identified by the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating Howard’s death. Early reports misgendered and deadnamed her, with local news outlets using “he” pronouns to describe her.

“It is heartbreaking to learn of yet another young Black trans woman whose life was taken by gun violence,” said Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative. “Destiny’s life mattered, and it was taken far too soon. Initial reports of Destiny’s death misgendered her, denying her the dignity to be seen as she desired. Our society must recognize that trans women are women and that their lives have worth, and work to end the violence that takes far too many of our lives.”

Howard’s death is the 37th reported killing of a trans individual in 2022. The murder of Unique Banks in Chicago brings to five the number of trans people dead from violence in 2023.

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