Photo: Henry Mills

At least 45 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed in America this year, making it the deadliest to date.

The latest victim is 28-year-old Marquiisha Lawrence, who was described by her mother as having a “heart of gold”.

Lawrence was shot and killed in Greenville, South Carolina on 4 November, which the police and Greenville County coroner’s office are continuing to investigate.

According to the latter, she was found in her home following an altercation with one or more individuals.

Eboni Sinclaire, Lawrence’s trans mother, said: “Marquiisha ‘Quii’ Lawrence, like so many who have gone before her, fell victim to a senseless murder.

“Quii was a young trans woman, at the beginning of this game called life, as WE know it in the trans community. She was a very humbled, free thinker who was loved by many.

“She will forever be remembered by her infectious smile and her heart of gold. Her favorite thing to do was to cook because she felt it filled the belly and fed the heart.

“One of our last conversations she said to me, ‘I’ve not always been the best I could be, but thank you for caring enough to still be here for me.'”

Sinclaire added that she is worried her daughter was killed for “accepting who she was and living her truth.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) tracked violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-confirming people throughout 2020, with the year being the most violent since records began in 2013 due to a total of 44 fatalities.

However, this has now been surpassed by 2021 because of Lawrence’s tragic death – with the actual number expected to be far higher as these stories often go misreported or unreported entirely.

“With 45 recorded deaths, we’ve reached yet another tragic milestone this year,” a statement from Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative said. “Marquiisha was clearly loved by so many.. She deserved to live, but her life was stolen from us far too soon.”

Cooper continued: “We must commit to honoring trans lives and ending the horrific epidemic of violence that plagues our community. Marquiisha deserved nothing less than our full commitment to building a better future for trans people.”

According to the HRC, in 2020 approximately seven in ten transgender and gender non-conforming people killed as a result of fatal violence were killed by an acquaintance, friend, family member or intimate partner.

2021’s first recorded violent killing of a trans person was 28-year-old Tyianna Alexandra, who was fatally shot on 6 January.

Since then, 44 more fatalities have occurred:

  • Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín
  • Bianca “Muffin” Bankz
  • Dominique Jackson
  • Fifty Bandz
  • Alexus Braxton
  • Chyna Carrillo
  • Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright
  • Jasmine Cannady
  • Jenna Franks
  • Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders
  • Rayanna Pardo
  • Jaida Peterson
  • Dominique Lucious
  • Remy Fennell
  • Tiara Banks
  • Natalia Smut
  • Iris Santos
  • Tiffany Thomas
  • Keri Washington
  • Jahaira DeAlto
  • Whispering Wind Bear Spirit
  • Sophie Vásquez
  • Danika “Danny” Henson
  • Serenity Hollis
  • Oliver ‘Ollie’ Taylor
  • Thomas Hardin
  • Poe Black
  • EJ Boykin
  • Aidelen Evans
  • Taya Ashton
  • Shai Vanderpump
  • Tierramarie Lewis
  • Miss CoCo
  • Pooh Johnson
  • Disaya Monaee
  • Brianna Hamilton
  • Kiér Laprí Kartier
  • Mel Groves
  • Royal Poetical Starz
  • Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez
  • Jo Acker
  • Jessi Hart
  • Rikkey Outommuro
  • Marquiisha Lawrence

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