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Tyianna Alexander and Samuel Edmund Damián are 2021's First Victims of Deadly Anti-Trans Violence

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday January 14, 2021

Only two weeks into 2021, the year's toll of trans murder victims is already mounting. Tyianna "Davarea" Alexander, a transgender woman of color, was shot and killed in Chicago by a gunman in a passing car on Jan. 6; less than a week later, on Jan. 11, the body of Samuel Edmund Damián as discovered with numerous bullet wounds in Puerto Rico.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the murder of Alexander, who was shot in the head and died at the scene while walking with a friend in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood.

"A gunman fired shots from a silver-colored vehicle about 5 a.m. in the 800 block of West 75th Street, Chicago police said," the Sun-Times reported.

Alexander's friend was also shot, and died later in the hospital.

Days later, Damián's body was discovered on a highway near Trujillo Alton when a motorist, unable to see well due to the road's poor lighting, struck the corpse at around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 11, Spanish-language newspaper Primera Hora reported.

"The body had multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of the body," Primera Hora reported.

Damián was initially misgendered in reports, the news account said, "information that took days to rectify."

Alexander was similarly misgendered in early reports.

The Human Rights Campaign, which tracks lethal anti-trans violence, noted that Alexander's murder constituted "at least the second violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in Chicago in the last several weeks, after Courtney 'Eshay' Key was killed on December 25."

The HRC quoted an anonymous source who speculated that Alexander and Key might both have been targeted by the same killer. Said the source: "With both of them losing their lives from a gunshot to the head, around the same time and neighborhood, one is only left to speculate that perhaps there is a serial killer targeting Black trans women in Chicago.

"Since their passing, the Chicago Police Department has done nothing other than misgender them while our community was left to bring honor to their names," the source added.

The HRC noted that it had "recorded more violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020 than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013."

The HRC reported 2020 saw the murders of "at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people... the majority of which were Black and Latinx transgender women."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.