Tierramarie Lewis, a black trans woman, is the 33rd known trans or gender non-conforming person to have been killed in the US this year after she was shot to death in Cleveland, Ohio. Lewis was killed on June 12, but her death has only recently become public knowledge “due to misgendering…and a lack of media coverage”, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Local LGBTQ+ news outlet, The Buckeye Flame, reported that Lewis was found with a gunshot wound in her chest when police responded to gunfire heard in the area. Duane Lunsford, the prime suspect, has been charged with aggravated murder and felonious assault, and has pleaded not guilty.
Before her death, Lewis had been experiencing homelessness but was receiving assistance from a local LGBTQ+ support centre. Eliana Turan, director of development at the centre, described Lewis as a ‘shining light’, adding: “She only gave kindness.” After the news of her death, Tori Cooper, the HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said: “Tierramarie should have had the chance to live the life she wanted to live.”
She continued: “As we continue to see so much violence against trans and gender non-conforming people, everyone must speak up and take action to end the stigma and fatal violence that often targets our community.” In 2020, 44 trans and gender non-conforming people were violently killed in the US, making it the deadliest year on record for trans Americans. A total of 350 trans people were killed globally, the majority of whom were murdered in Brazil, Mexico and the US. Black trans women were, and continue to be, disproportionately affected by violence.