In a tragic benchmark of hate, the murder of Black transgender woman Marquiisha Lawrence in Greenville, South Carolina, has made 2021 the deadliest year for transgender individuals.
The Advocate’s Alex Cooper reported that Lawrence “is one of at least 45 trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year.”
That number sadly surpasses the 44 deaths recorded last year and becomes a new record for transgender murders in the country. Unfortunately, experts say many more transgender deaths likely occur each year, with a large number going unreported or being misreported.
“Lawrence was found dead in her home by family members,” Cooper said. “It seems she had been in an altercation with one or more people, according to the coroner’s office. The office declared Lawrence’s death a homicide.”
Marquiisha Lawrence, a young Black trans woman, is remembered as being “very humble” and having a “heart of gold.”
She was well-loved by her family and friends.https://t.co/Z5Ih0fRPs5
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 9, 2021
“Marquiisha ‘Quii’ Lawrence, like so many who have gone before her, fell victim to a senseless murder,” Lawrence’s trans mother, Eboni Sinclaire, told the Human Rights Campaign.
“Quii was a young trans woman, at the beginning of this game called life, as we know it in the trans community,” Sinclaire added, remembering Lawrence as a free thinker who was loved by many.
“She will forever be remembered by her infectious smile and her heart of gold. Her favorite thing to do was to cook because she felt it filled the belly and fed the heart,” Sinclaire said. “One of our last conversations, she said to me, ‘I’ve not always been the best I could be but thank you for caring enough to still be here for me.’”
Tori Cooper, the HRC’s director of community engagement for the transgender justice initiative, said in a statement, “with 45 recorded deaths, we’ve reached yet another tragic milestone this year. Marquiisha was clearly loved by so many. She deserved to live, but her life was stolen from us far too soon. We must commit to honoring trans lives and ending the horrific epidemic of violence that plagues our community. Marquiisha deserved nothing less than our full commitment to building a better future for trans people.”
According to Cooper, transgender and gender-nonconforming people living in South Carolina “are not necessarily protected against discrimination in many cases, and the state doesn’t have a hate crimes prevention law.”
Investigators with the Greenville County sheriff’s office are investigating the case further.