Courtney Eshay Key, a 25-year-old black trans woman, is the 43rd known trans person to have been killed in the US this year after she was shot dead in Chicago, Illinois on the evening of Christmas. According to CBS Chicago, Key’s body was found at 8.35pm on 82nd Street near Drexel Avenue; it was initially believed to have been a hit and run incident, but gunshot wounds were later determined as the cause of her death, which is now being treated as a homicide. Key was also misgendered by police after her death.
Friends believe the incident was a hate crime, with one of Key’s closest companions, Beverly Ross, saying: “I believe Eshay was targeted…We need to get to the bottom of this because Black trans lives matter. We are not going anywhere.” Ross also criticised authorities for misgendering Key: “We are human. We are real…We’re tired of Chicago police misgendering trans people; gender non-conforming people. They’re dehumanizing our character.”
2020 has been the deadliest year on record for trans Americans, with the majority of victims dying in acts of gun violence. Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David, said: “This epidemic of violence, which is particularly impacting transgender women of colour, must and can be stopped. We must work to address the factors that underpin this culture of violence and openly discuss how the intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia work to deprive transgender and gender non-conforming people of equal access to opportunity and necessities like employment, housing and health care.”