Trans man shot and killed while driving a taxi is the US’s first known violent trans death of 2020

Dustin Parker

Dustin Parker, a 25-year-old trans man, was fatally shot in the early hours of New Year’s Day while driving a taxi.

It is the first known violent trans death of 2020 in the US.

Parker was driving a cab for Rover Taxi, which had been giving out free rides for New Year’s Eve, in McAlester, Oklahoma, when he was fatally shot.

Police found the car with its windows shot out, and say that someone had shot and killed Parker inside the car around 6.30am on New Year’s Day.

A person of interest was questioned in association with his death but has been released by police, according to Tulsa News.

“We’ve still got investigators out running down leads right now,” captain Kevin Hearod of the McAlester Police Department told the World. “[Parker was] just a working man, making a living for his family, and he didn’t get to come home.”

There is no suggestion at this time that the killing was motivated by Parker’s gender identity.

Dustin Parker is survived by his wife and four children, the youngest of which will turn seven on Sunday.

He was a founding member of the McAlester chapter of Oklahomans for Equality, an LGBT+ rights group.

The statewide organisation posted on its Facebook page, saying it has lowered its transgender flag to “honour his memory and contributions to the LGBTQIA+ movement in Oklahoma”.

According to local media, Parker set up Rover Taxi in September 2019 with his friend Brian West.

“He had a lot of potential. I saw more potential in him then I saw in myself,” West said.

“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” West added. “We are a family down here, this is painful for everybody.”

Valerie Wilson, a friend of Parker’s, said: “Dustin was the most generous and loving person I could’ve ever met.

“He would’ve given anyone his time, his love, the shirt off his back. He would’ve given anything to anyone he was just so young, happy and bright and just full of life.”

In a statement, Parker’s wife, Regina, said: “Dustin was such an amazing and special person. He was incredibly generous, kind, intelligent, and so empathetic.

“I have always known how special he was, but I had no idea of all the lives that he touched and I am so grateful for all the love and support I have received.

“I want everyone to know how incredibly thankful I am for the support from not only our family and friends, but also the community as a whole.”

So far, West and other friends have raised $30,000 in emergency funds for Parker’s wife and children, and are holding a candlelit vigil and benefit show for him tonight (January 3).

“There is no amount of money that can make this right,” West said. “But we can make it easier so she doesn’t have to worry about those things. That’s the best we can do.”

Last year, at least 26 trans or gender non-conforming people were violently killed in the US.