21 year old Alpha Diallo is facing charges of murder after being arrested for the murder of a black transgender woman – who has now been identified as 32 year old Tiffany Harris (known by some close friends as Dior Ova) – in Kingsbridge Heights, New York. Although Tiffany was hospitalised after being stabbed in the chest, she was pronounced dead 45 minutes after the attack.
It is thought that Diallo and Harris were intimate partners at some point, and Diallo has not yet confirmed his reason for the attack. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HCR), Tiffany was one of 23 black trans woman murdered in the US in 2020; this number has risen to at least 26 since the time of her death, with two more trans women losing their lives within two days after Harris. Another HCR report stated that like Tiffany, 49% of trans people in 2019 were killed by someone they were acquainted with such as a friend or a partner.
Consistent reports of violence against black trans women led trans activist Laverne Cox to declare ‘state of emergency’ in 2015, and the situation has continued to worsen since then. The number of those murdered in 2020 so far is close to topping the total number of killings in 2019.
Tori Cooper, director of engagement at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that there is an ‘epidemic’ of violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. She attributes the increasing violence to [a mix of toxic masculinity, misogyny, racism and transphobia’, and insists that ‘we must continue to call for it to end’.