2021 matches deadly record for anti-trans violence after tragic killing of activist Rikkey Outumuro

Rikkey Outumurro

Rikkey Outumuro, a beloved community leader, fearless drag icon and decades-long activist, has died. She was 39.

Otherwise known by her drag stage name as Tru Starlet, Outumuro fatally shot in Centralia, Washington, Saturday evening (30 October) by her 28-year-old boyfriend.

Cristopher Allen Gaudreau told Centralia police officers that he and Outumuro, a former Miss Gay Lewis County, had met for drinks but blacked out at around 11:30pm 30 October, The Chronicle reported.

He told police that he woke up on the floor of his residence in the 800 block of South Gold Street at around 8:20am. Their six-year-old son was playing video games on the sofa – Outumuro was lying on the couch, dead, in the defensive position with her arms covering her face, Washington State Patrol said.

Investigators said Outumuro suffered five gunshot wounds. Gaudreau picked up four bullet casings he found on the floor and put them on the table, told his son his mother was dead, and took him to Outumuro’s mother’s home.

Gaudreau has since been booked into Lewis County Jail and charged with first-degree murder.

Described by her friends as a torchbearer for LGBT+ rights who sought to light fires in the hearts of Centralia College students, Otumuro was a “brilliant light for countless loved ones and folx in Centralia and Olympia,” a friend wrote on Facebook.

Anna Schlecht, former chair of Capital City Pride, said: “I’ve known her since she was little. She was best friends with my then-girlfriend’s daughter.

“They would go to the neighborhood food co-op and play ‘dress up drag queen’ near the free box to the delight of co-op members, often doing little drag shows.”

Rikkey Otumuro is the 44th trans person slain in the US this year

Rikkey Otumuro is, at the very least, the 44th trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming person to have been killed this year in a wave of violence that the American Medical Association and president Joe Biden have declared an “epidemic”.

As much as trans Americans have scored political gains and turned public favour when it comes to wider acceptance and visibility, violence has surged year on year.

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign documented at least 44 trans people slain in the US. But the tally, already dizzyingly high, is likely even higher, the organisation warns, with misgendering and deadnaming remaining rife in police and press reports.

The killings are the grisly upshot of how Trans Americans face higher levels of homelessness, poverty and unemployment, all the while they are routinely dragged into culture wars debating their very right to exist by obsessed Republican legislators.

Activists point to some bracing data to stress this. Three-fourths of confirmed homicides against trans people have involved a gun, according to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker.

While according to the 2015 United States Transgender Survey, 54 per cent of trans and non-binary people have experienced violence at the hands of intimate violence.

This year alone, the community has mourned: Tyianna AlexandraSamuel Edmund Damián ValentínBianca BankzDominique JacksonFifty BandzAlexus BraxtonChyna CarrilloJeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ SandersRayanna PardoDominique LuciousJaida PetersonRemy FennellTiara BanksNatalia Smüt, Iris SantosTiffany ThomasJahaira DeAlto BalenciagaKeri WashingtonSophie Vásquez, Danny HensonWhispering Bear Spirit, Serenity HollisOliver ‘Ollie’ TaylorThomas HardinPoe BlackNovaa Watson, Aidelen Evans, Taya AshtonShai VanderpumpTierramarie LewisMiss CoCoPooh JohnsonDisaya MonaeeBrianna HamiltonKiér Laprí Kartier, Mel GrovesRoyal Poetical Starz, Zoella Rose MartinezJo Acker and Jessi Hart.

“With Tru Starlet’s death, we’ve tied last year’s record number of fatal violence cases with two whole months remaining in 2021,” Tori Cooper, who helms the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a statement.

“Each one of these cases has been an unspeakable tragedy. Tru Starlet touched the lives of so many people in her community.

“Gun violence and domestic violence are plagues upon our nation and leave far too many in mourning.

“Although Tru Starlet’s life has been stolen, her legacy as a performer and as a person will live on in the memories of those who knew her