The victim in a June shooting death in Meridian, Mississippi, has been identified as 39-year-old Diamond Stephens, a transgender woman of color. Initial reports in local media misgendered Stephens, but trans activists have confirmed Stephens was trans and she used female pronouns on her social media profiles.
According to local outlet WTOK, authorities were called to the scene of a van crash on the evening of June 18. Police discovered Stephens fatally shot inside the vehicle.
“I don’t really know what words to say, other than we need God to help us and give us strength to make it through this situation, and [we] pray to God that whoever did this is found and we get justice from it,” Stephens’ cousin Georgia Brown told WTOK.
As Mic has previously reported, trans homicide victims are often misgendered by local media, law enforcement or their own families after their deaths, or they may not be out as as trans at all — which means the real number of trans homicide victims each year is likely far higher than reports suggest.
After Stephens’ death, friends and family lit candles and released balloons at the site where her body was found, WTOK reported. Kimberly Stevens, another cousin of Stephens’, told WTOK she hopes the community will rally against the violence that claimed her cousin’s life. “I think the community needs to get together and stand because we’re all united as one, so without us being together, it’ll always continue,” she said.
By Mic’s own count, at least 15 trans people have been killed in the U.S. so far in 2018, the vast majority of them trans women of color. Four of those deaths have occurred in Florida, where Sasha Garden, a 27-year-old trans woman, was found dead in an Orlando apartment complex July 19.