Two Black trans women murdered. Their names were Unique Banks and Destiny Howard

Unique Banks and Destiny Howard, two trans women who were killed in America in the past two months

The killing of two Black trans women in separate incidents in the United States has been confirmed.

Unique Banks, a 21-year-old trans woman from Chicago, is thought to be the third transgender person to be violently killed in the US so far in 2023. 

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports that Banks was killed on Monday (23 January) in a mass shooting that also took the life of her mother, Alexsandra Olmo.

Olmo’s boyfriend and two other trans women were hospitalised following the attack. 

Banks’ father, Omar Burgos, wrote on social media that his “heart is torn apart” by her death. 

“Unique Banks was just 21 years old, and she was killed in a horrific mass shooting that also targeted her family and friends,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. 

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“The rate of gun violence in this country is out of control. It tears families apart and leaves communities grieving and traumatised. 

“We know from other countries that tighter gun laws work to dramatically reduce firearm related deaths. Lawmakers must act to end the violence.”

The HRC reported that Banks is the third trans or gender non-conforming person to be violently killed in 2023 so far, adding that the real number could be higher as trans people are often misgendered in death, or their deaths go unreported. 

The death of another trans woman has only recently been counted among those lost to anti-trans violence in 2022 following her death in December, due to initial reports misgendering and deadnaming her. 

Destiny Howard, 23, was killed in Georgia last month in a fatal shooting, according to Them.

She was reportedly shot in a car park and pronounced dead at the scene by police.

Cooper of HRC said it was “heartbreaking to learn of yet another young, Black trans woman whose life was taken by gun violence”. 

“Initial reports of Destiny’s death misgendered her, denying her the dignity to be seen as she truly was,” Cooper added.

“Our society must recognise that trans women are women and that their lives have worth, and work to end the violence that takes far too many of our lives.”

On Trans Day of Remembrance last year it was reported that at least 32 trans people had been violently killed in America between January and November 2022.

HRC said in a statement: “In 2022, we’ve seen at least 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people killed in an epidemic of violence threatening our community.

“These victims had families and friends, hopes and dreams. None of them deserved to have their lives stolen by horrific violence.

“Most of the victims were Black trans women, a tragedy that reflects an appalling trend of violence fuelled by racism, toxic masculinity, misogyny and transphobia and the politicisation of our lives.”