Bella Pugh, a gender non-conforming teen, killed at Christmas party. Their mother says it’s because they wore a rainbow jumpsuit

Two photographs of Bella Pugh, one in a rainbow jumpsuit inside and another in an orange jumpsuit outside

Bella Pugh, a Black gender non-confirming teen, was shot to death after a Christmas party erupted into a night of violence earlier this month.

The 19-year-old was slain at a residence in Rosedale Avenue in Prichard, Alabama on 13 December.

Reports suggest that after Pugh was shot, party-goers waited 20 minutes before calling emergency services. Some did nothing, others took out their mobile phones and recorded.

Pugh’s mother Tiffany told Fox10 News that it was their rainbow-coloured jumpsuit that led to their murder, saying: “If [they] wasn’t wearing that dress [they] would still be alive.”

At least two other people attending the party were also injured, according to the Prichard City Police Department.

Officers added that a suspect, James Lee James Jr, turned himself in for questioning 16 December, NBC15 News reported.

He was later charged with murder and two counts of second-degree assault – however, authorities said that they are not investigating Pugh’s death as a hate crime. Their family disagree with the decision.

Tiffany believes Pugh “was killed because of what [they] was wearing, not because of who [they] was or what [they] did.”

“I loved [them] with everything in me, that’s why [they] could shine like [they] did. Everything I had I poured into [Bella].”

Pugh’s father Antonio Ruggs reflected: “Love your kids for who they are.”

“Because you know one day they could be here, the next day they can be gone,” he added, according to MyNBC15.

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

Pugh’s death is yet to be officially counted by monitoring group Human Rights Campaign, which has tracked a record number of murders of trans people in 2020.

With days left until the year ends, HRC’s count stands at 41 trans and gender non-conforming people murdered, more than any other on record.

Rising higher and higher each year, 2020 surpassed last year’s total in August.

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