Two more transgender women have been murdered, bringing the total to in the United States to four known trans people killed this year.
Tonya Harvey, 35, was shot on a dead-end street in Buffalo, New York, on Feb. 6. She died at the scene, report police, who are investigating the death as a potential hate crime.
An Erie County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said the office is “extremely concerned about a spike in homicides of transgender people across the country and will be, as part of this investigation, looking into whether or not this is a potential hate crime.”
Harvey was the third known transgender person murdered in 2018 in the United States, and the city’s first killing of the year.
Buffalo police spokesperson Michael J. DeGeorge told Mic that although the investigation into Harvey’s death is still “in the very early stages,” they have “some possible early leads.”
“There is a very real epidemic of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly those who live at the intersection of transphobia, racism and misogyny,” Pride Center of Western New York Executive Director Damian Mordecai said in a statement. “The Pride Center remains steadfast in our mission of working with the community to make (Western New York) a safe place for LGBTQ people and to combat trans misogyny.”
Friends shared fond remembrances of her on social media, calling Harvey a sweet and beautiful person.
Celine Walker, 36, was shot to death in a Jacksonville, Florida motel on Feb. 4. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Initial media reports misgendered and dead-named her, following information provided by the Sheriff’s Office. The delay in properly identifying Walker as trans has resulted in most media outlets referring to her as the fourth trans murder of the year, despite the fact that she passed away before Harvey.
Her friend, Naomi Michaels, said Walker “lived a low key life where she did whatever needed to be done in order for her to survive.”
Michaels wrote on Facebook that she called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department and was told that they do not refer to victims as transgender.
Last month, two transgender women were murdered: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, who founded the Miss Trans America pageant, and Viccky Gutierrez.
Steele-Knudslien died in her home on Jan. 2., in in North Adams, Massachusetts. Her husband is facing charges.
Gutierrez, who lived in Los Angeles, died after becoming trapped in her apartment while it was on fire, on Jan. 10. A suspect, Kevyn Ramirez, has been arrested and is facing charges for her death.
Last year was the deadliest known year on record in the United States for transgender people.