Community mourns 37th trans person violently killed in 2021, Brianna Hamilton

Briana Hamilton was just 25-years-old when she was shot and killed on Chicago's South Side.

Brianna Hamilton, a Black trans woman who was “loved by many”, is being mourned as the 37th trans person violently killed in America so far this year.

Hamilton, also known as Brianna Ulmer, was fatally shot in Chicago, Illinois on 17 September. She was 25 years old.

Her death was confirmed by LaSaia Wade of Brave Space Alliance. The Black- and trans-led LGBT+ centre in Chicago posted a photograph and tribute to Hamilton on its Facebook page.

“Brianna Hamilton rest in power my luv, she was found two days ago killed on the south side of Chicago.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that officers found Hamilton with a gunshot wound to the head at around 6.30am in Gresham on Chicago’s South Side. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

As is sadly often the case when reporting the death of trans and gender non-conforming people, Hamilton was misgendered and deadnamed by the outlet.

On Sunday (19 September), Hamilton’s mother, Ronda Ulmer, thanked anyone who had offered condolences after her daughter’s death on Facebook. She wrote that Hamilton had a lot of friends, and said she had planned a “balloon release” and candlelight vigil for her daughter.

Hamilton’s family also launched a GoFundMe campaign to help offset funeral costs. Ronda wrote that her daughter was the “victim of a ruthless murder” and “funeral expenses is an unexpected challenge” for her as a “single mother”.

“I know Brianna was loved by many and at this time your support is greatly needed and appreciated,” Ronda wrote on the GodFundMe page. “Brianna was a amazing person who touched so many people hearts with her presence and her memory will forever live on.”

Hamilton is at least the 37th trans or gender non-conforming person to die by violence in the US this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This puts 2021 on track to meet or exceed 2020’s record-breaking tragic total of 44 such deaths.

Sadly, this figure could be higher as the deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people often go underreported, or the individuals are misgendered or misreported by the news.

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the HRC’s transgender justice initiative, said in a statement that Hamilton is the “second killing of a Black trans woman in Chicago” in the past month and the “fourth this year”.

“Black trans lives matter, and we need urgent action to end this epidemic of violence,” Cooper said.

Earlier this month, Disaya Monaee was shot to death outside the Prestige Inn and Suites in Chicago. Family members told 5Chicago that the crime scene was “gruesome” and pleaded with anyone with information to come forward.

In the nine months, the community has also mourned: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Dominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smüt, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, Keri Washington, Sophie Vásquez, Danny Henson, Whispering Bear Spirit, Serenity Hollis, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, Novaa Watson, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo and Pooh Johnson.