Two Black trans women, Chae’Meshia Simms and Skylar Heath, dead amid the worst year for trans violence on record

Facebook profile pictures of Chae’Meshia Simms and Skylar Heath

Chae’Meshia Simms, a 30-year-old Black trans woman, was found dead in her car Monday morning (23 November) in Richmond, Virginia while Skylar Heath is believed to have been shot dead.

Simms was remembered by loved ones as a good person, kind and “cool as hell”, and always her “own boss”.

Authorities said that a body had been found with gunshot wounds in the wreckage of a Chevrolet Impala. Police were called to the 800 block of Cheatwood Avenue at around 5:42am following reports of a car colliding into a garage, according to NBC12.

Her death makes her at least the 39th trans or gender non-conforming person to be slain in the US this year alone, said monitoring group the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC, a top LGBT+ rights advocacy group which has closely monitored the “devastating” rate of trans violence, stressed that its figures, already swollen, still understate the level of violence.

Indeed, the group was recently “made aware of the death of Skylar Heath, a 20-year-old Black transgender woman in Miami, Florida”, potentially moving its count to 40 victims.

No law enforcement reports or media outlets have reported on Heath’s death, but community leaders believe she was shot 4 November in Liberty City. A service to “celebrate” Heath’s life was held 21 November where mourners released balloons in her honour, they added.

With each year, the number of trans people murdered rises.

Throughout the last four years of the Trump administration, during which one of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in the country have been reduced to a political target, the death toll of trans people has rocketed.

Rising higher and higher each year, 2020 surpassed last year’s total in August, with the death toll continuing to rise.

Activists say these numbers almost certainly fail to grasp the problem. Local officials are not required to report killings to a centralised database, and the police and press often misgender trans victims.

“We are mourning Chae’Meshia along with her friends and family,” said HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper.

“Although I did not know Chae’Meshia personally, she was from my hometown, and her death impacts the trans and gender non-conforming community everywhere.

“We are continuing to see a devastating rate of violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, especially against Black and Brown trans women, and it must be stopped.

“It takes all of us to speak up and take action to end this violence.”

PinkNews contacted the Miami Police Department for comment.

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