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Two trans women shot dead in their own homes as anti-trans violence continues to spiral

Josh Milton May 11, 2021
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On the left: Sophie Vásquez poses on the beach. On the right: Danny Henson looks at the camera with a star filter

Sophie Vásquez (L) and Danny Henson, two trans women murdered on the very same day. (Facebook)

Two trans women, Sophie Vásquez and Danny Henson, were slain on the very same day in the US.

Vásquez, a Latinx 36-year-old, was fatally shot in her own apartment in Brookhaven, Georgia, on 4 May, according to El Nuevo Georgia News, a Spanish-language newspaper in Atlanta.

Details of her death remain scarce at the time of writing, but the Brookhaven Police Department confirmed to community leaders that she was killed in the Gwinnett County suburb.

“She was misgendered and deadnamed in the police report,” said Darlene Darlington Wagner, president of Transgender Day of Remembrance Atlanta, on Facebook.

A GoFundMe organised by her family in Graniteville, South Carolina, has raised more than $5,400 of the $10,000 in funeral expenses for Vásquez.

Some 600 miles away in Baltimore, Maryland, Henson was shot dead in her home, 2abc WMAR Baltimore reported.

Authorities responded to a call at 2:27am that the 31-year-old had been shot on the 5100 block of Williston Street.

Relatives described her as the “embodiment of love” as loved ones and local activists gathered for a vigil on 6 May.

“Anytime you were feeling down all you had to do pick up the phone and call [her] and [she] was right there for you,” reflected Ashley Evang, who had known Henson for 14 years.

As a death toll rises, trans activists wonder: ‘When will this stop?’

The killings are the latest to strike the embattled trans community, one of the most vulnerable and marginalised demographics in the country.

In the US this year alone, at least 23 trans or gender non-conforming people – most of them trans women of colour – have been violently murdered in what both president Joe Biden and the American Medical Association have declared an “epidemic”.

As well as Sophie Vásquez and Danny Henson, in five months the community has mourned: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique JacksonFifty BandzAlexus BraxtonChyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ SandersRayanna PardoDominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy FennellTiara Banks, Natalia Smüt, Iris SantosTiffany Thomas, Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga and Keri Washington.

In the death of Aidelen Evans, investigators have not ruled out homicide, but details remain sparse at the time of writing.

Advocacy groups monitoring the wave of brutality closely have repeatedly warned that the figure is undoubtedly higher – such tallies are muddied by both the police and press deadnaming and misgendering victims.

By the Human Rights Campaign‘s estimates, approximately three-quarters of all known victims are misgendered by media and/or by law enforcement.

“Until when will this crime stop, this hatred against us trans people?” said Community Estrella, an NGO, in a Facebook post paying tribute to Vásquez.

“If the only thing that we have done and are doing is existing in this world, in this world that has not yet understood who we genuinely are, in this world that has yet to respect our freedom.

“When will this ever stop?”

Related topics: anti-trans violence

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