A transgender woman has been shot dead in the back of the head while driving home

A transgender woman has been shot dead while driving home in Meridian, Mississippi.

Diamond Stephens, 39, became the sixteenth report of a trans person killed in the US this year, after 27-year-old Sasha Garden’s death in Florida earlier this month was found to be a homicide.

Stephens, who was found dead in her car on June 18, was not identified as trans for more than a month because she was misgendered by local media and authorities in Mississippi, where it is legal to discriminate against LGBT people.

She was shot while driving home to get changed for work (Diamond Stephens/facebook)

A total of 28 trans people were killed in the US in 2017, the highest number on record – and like Stephens, most of the victims were trans women of colour and killed in the South.

Police Chief Benny Dubose told local channel WTOK that Stephens appeared to have been killed by someone who was with her in the car.

“Number one, [she] was shot in the back of the head,” said Chief Dubose.

“Number two, it appears that there might have been either one or two other individuals in the vehicle at the time [she] was shot.”

There are currently no suspects in the case, the Chief added, explaining: “We don’t have any names at this point. We do have several tips from citizens.”

Stephens’ death is the 16th time a trans person has been killed in the US this year (Diamond Stephens/facebook)

Stephens’ family started to worry when she didn’t come home, and said they couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to kill her.

Her cousin, Georgia Brown, said: “It’s not right for someone to just go out and take [her] life away from [her] like that. We are hurting really bad.”

She added: “I don’t really know what words to say other than we need God to help us and give us strength to make it through this situation and pray to God that whoever did this is found and we get justice from it.”

At a candlelit vigil for Stephens, her cousin Kimberly Stevens told WTOK: “I think the community needs to get together and stand because we’re all united as one, so without us being together, it’ll always continue.

“I really hope they get whoever had done this to him. Because we are not going to stop until justice is seeked.”

The current rate of trans killings in 2018 is around the same as last year.

Keisha Wells, 58, was fatally shot in Cleveland. Her body was found in the car park of an apartment building with a gunshot wound to the abdomen on June 24.

Josie Berrios, 28, from Ithaca, New York, was found dead in an apartment block on June 12.

The body of Antash’a English, 38, was found on June 1 between two derelict homes in Jacksonville, Florida, with gunshot wounds.

Gigi Pierce, 28, died in Portland, Oregon on May 21 after being shot dead in public following an altercation.

Nino Fortson, 36, died after being shot multiple times following an argument in Atlanta, Georgia during the early hours of May 13.

(Nino Starr/Facebook)

Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon, 18, was choked to death in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month.

(Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon/Facebook)

Sasha Wall, 29, was shot dead in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, in April, dying after suffering multiple gunshots in her car.

(Facebook/sasha wall)

Amia Tyrae Berryman, a 28-year-old from Los Angeles, was the seventh trans person to be killed this year.

Amia Tyrae Berryman

She was found shot to death in a motel room in March.

In February, the body of Zakaria Fry, 28, was found on a road just outside of Santa Fe, Albuquerque.

(Photo by Zakaria Fry/Facebook)

Phylicia Mitchell was shot dead in Cleveland, Ohio. The 45-year-old was found in her living room on February 23 with bullet wounds in her chest.

(Photo by Phylicia Mitchell/Facebook)

Celine Walker, 36, was found shot to death in a motel room in Jacksonville, Florida in February.

(Photo by Naomi Michaels/Facebook)

Also in February, Tonya Harvey, 35, was shot dead on Shepard Street in Buffalo, New York.

(Facebook/tonya harvey)

Harvey’s murder followed the killings of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, who founded the Miss Trans America pageant, and Viccky Gutierrez, who was burned to death in Los Angeles.

Viccky Gutierrez

Viccky Gutierrez, the second trans woman murdered in 2018 (Photo from GoFundMe)

Steele-Knudslien was found stabbed to death in her home.

The Human Rights Campaign has reported that 84 percent of trans people killed since the start of last year are trans women of colour.