Student shot dead is 39th trans person violently killed in the US this year. His name was Mel Groves
A 25-year-old Black trans man called Mel Groves died of multiple gunshot wounds in Mississippi on Monday (11 October).
Groves is at least the 39th trans or gender non-conforming person to be violently killed in the US in 2021, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which tracks anti-trans violence in the US.
He was a student at Alcorn State University, a historically Black university in Lorman, Mississippi, where he began studying plant science in August 2021.
Police in Jackson, Mississippi, confirmed that Groves died after driving himself to hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
Groves collapsed while getting out of the vehicle at Merit Health Hospital and was transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he died on Monday afternoon (11 October), Jackson Police Department (JPD) spokesperson Sam Brown told local news.
Brown added that JPD are trying to determine the location of the shooting, as well as potential suspects and motives.
Groves’ death is the 115th homicide in Jackson this year. The state capital recorded 130 murders last year, the highest number in its history.
Murdered Black trans man misgendered by media outlets
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Groves was an active member of The Knights & Orchids Society (TKO), “a southern centered grassroots startup founded and led by Black, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people supporting gender justice and LGBTQ visibility”.
On Facebook, TKO said: “He was murdered. The news outlets are already misgendering Mel and using his old name.
“The motive is unknown, but we know the violence that happens to trans people in our communities. Mel had even shared that he feared for his life because he was trans in Jackson.”
The organisation added that it is “trying to find real answers” and offered a reward for “any leads and information”. TKO also asked its community to contact Mississippi media outlets and demand they stop misgendering Groves.
Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said: “Mel Groves had an incredibly bright future, but it was stolen from him well before his time. The loss of such a life is a tragedy for our community and for the world.
“We must work to create a society where trans people, especially Black trans people, no longer have to live in fear.”
At least 39 trans people have been violently killed in the US this year. The real number is likely to be higher, as many such killings go unreported, or the victim misgendered and deadnamed.
Mel Groves’ death follows that of Kiér Laprií Karter, who was shot dead on 30 September in Arlington, Texas. She was 21 years old.
In the 10 months of 2021, the community has also mourned: Disaya Monaee, Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Dominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smüt, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, Keri Washington, Sophie Vásquez, Danny Henson, Whispering Bear Spirit, Serenity Hollis, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, Novaa Watson, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo and Pooh Johnson.
In 2020, 44 trans and gender non-conforming people were violently killed in the US – more than in any other year since HRC began tracking such deaths in 2013.