The murderous death toll continues to climb for members of the transgender community with news of the killing of Denali Berries Stuckey, the 12th transgender woman to be slain this year.
Stuckey, 29, was found shot to death along a road in North Charleston, S.C., on Saturday, and police are now investigating whether her death was the result of a hate crime, CBS News reports.
‘We definitely have a homicide. I think it would be premature to label it a hate crime,” North Charleston Police Department Deputy Chief Greg Gomes told CBS. “Obviously, we haven’t closed the book on that or anything else.”
However, as CBS notes, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, Stuckey’s killing marks the 12th this year of a transgender woman in this nation, and all of the victims were black.
Stuckey is also at least the third black trans woman to have been killed in the state of South Carolina since 2018, Chase Glenn, executive director of Alliance for Full Acceptance, told HuffPost.
“I am heartbroken and outraged by the news of yet another murder of one of our transgender community members,” Glenn said. “We refuse to become numb. We will continue to say the names of these women and remember them how they would have wanted to be remembered.”
Trans women of color are particularly vulnerable to violent attack, advocacy groups say.
As HuffPost reports:
Violence against the trans community reached an all-time high in 2017, according to a report from that year from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2018, at least 26 transgender people were killed, the majority of them being trans women of color.
Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) both reacted Tuesday to news of Stuckey’s killing, tweeting:
Denali Berries Stuckey is at least the 12th Black trans women killed this year. We cannot ignore this violence. Transgender people deserve to live openly without fear.https://t.co/EMbM2TnyYH
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 24, 2019
And from Warren:
The murders of Black trans women in America are a crisis. We must call it out and fight back, until everyone is free to be who they are without fear. Say her name: Denali Berries Stuckey. https://t.co/wXTAseFfio
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 23, 2019
Those who knew and loved Stuckey remembered her fondly, including at a memorial Monday night.
“She was a free spirit. She was very outspoken,” family friend Ron’Rico Judon told ABC News, according to HuffPost. “If you didn’t like the fact that she was trans, she would give you a piece of her mind.”