Black trans man shot dead in Florida in act of ‘senseless violence’

Tee 'Lagend Billons' Arnold - a Black trans man killed in Florida in early April

A Black trans man shot dead in Florida has been described by friends as “blessing the world [with] laughter and good energy.”

Tee ‘Lagend Billons’ Arnold was shot on 3 April in Hallandale Beach, close to Miami, dying of his injuries four days later.

According to reports, police responded to a shooting in the early hours of the morning, finding Arnold, 36, in critical condition. They are reportedly searching for a female suspect, who they believe knew him.

In a Facebook post, Arnold’s friend Cece Gates thanked him for “always answering the phone when I was lost, for never being afraid to tell me when I’m wrong, telling me to pray when I was weak, always offering words of encouragement”, adding: “Thank you for showing the world that there is nothing better than being your true authentic self.”

According to data from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Arnold is at least the seventh transgender or gender-non-conforming person to be killed in the US in 2024, and the third trans man this year.

The HRC believes the real number of victims could be higher, given that some violence involving transgender people is underreported or misreported. Tori Cooper, the organisation’s trans justice initiative director, said: “It breaks my heart to see someone’s life cut short due to senseless violence.

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“Tee was a brother, an uncle and a friend, who will be missed greatly by those whose lives he touched.

“It’s our duty as members of the TLGBQ+ community to protect our trans brothers and sisters by pushing back against lawmakers who create overly lenient gun laws that leave everyone less safe.

“My hope is that in Tee’s death, we rally to protect other members of the trans community from facing such a tragic ending.”

Florida has become notorious in recent years for its anti-queer legislation, pushed by Republican governor, and former presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis, including the Don’t Say Gay law which bans LGBTQ+ education in public-school classrooms.

DeSantis has also tried to outlaw drag shows in the state, as well as ban trans people from using toilets that match their gender identity and gender-affirming care for young trans people.