Shai Vanderpump, a 23-year-old black trans woman, is the 32nd known trans person to have been violently killed in the US this year after she was shot to death in New Jersey on July 30. According to Law and Crime, Vanderpump was found at approximately 4.40 am with gunshot wounds, and was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Daniel Smith, a 36-year-old man, has been charged with the murder of Vanderpump. Although his motives are unclear, her death is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Garden State Equality, a local LGBTQ+ rights group, said it was “devastated” to learn of Vanderpump’s murder, describing her as a “fierce LGBTQ+ advocate”.
Vanderpump’s death came less than two weeks after Taya Ashton, a 20-year-old black trans woman, was shot to death in Maryland, making her the 31st trans person to have been killed in the US this year. Activists are fearful that if the high rates of violence continue, 2021’s death toll will surpass that of 2020.
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.