Transgender murders in 2017 highest on record

Make-up artist Mesha Caldwell, 41, was found dead near Canton, Mississippi on January 4. Caldwell’s death is believed to be the first reported murder of a transgender person in the United States in 2017.

A grim statistic — More transgender people were murdered in the United States in 2017 than any other year on record, according to advocacy groups.

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The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has calculated 26 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were murdered in the U.S. so far this year; 16 of the victims were transgender women of color.

The Human Rights Campaign and Trans People of Color Coalition, in a joint report released Friday, estimated that 102 transgender people have been killed in the past five years, including at least 25 this year. They define transgender as people whose gender identity is different than the sex listed on their birth certificate.

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Both reports list the entire group of victims, including information about their murders.

Both groups say their totals may be incomplete because transgender victims are sometimes misidentified in police and news reports.

In some cases, it has taken weeks or even months for friends or family to publicly clarify the gender identity of a victim who had transitioned from the gender given in initial police accounts of the death.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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