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Trans Woman of Color Briana Hamilton Murdered in Chicago

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday September 26, 2021
Originally published on September 26, 2021

The year's toll of anti-trans violence has climbed to at least 37 victims with the shooting death of Brianna Hamilton in Chicago.

Hamilton was murdered on Sept. 17, according to a Facebook post by the Brave Space Alliance, an LGBTQ+ Center located in Chicago's South Side.

"Brianna Hamilton rest in power my luv, she was found two days ago killed on the south side of Chicago," the Sept. 18 post read.

Hamilton's mother described her as "amazing person who touched so many people hearts with her presence" at a GoFundME page established to help cover Hamilton's funeral expenses.

"Hamilton's death is at least the 37th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021 and the fourth in Chicago," the Human Rights Campaign reported.

Hamilton's was killed less than two weeks after the shooting death of D'isaya Monaee Smith in Dolton, Illinois. As previously reported at EDGE, Smith was staying at a motel in Dolton over Labor Day weekend when she was shot to death in the early hours of Sept. 6. Her friends had gone out for the evening, and when they returned they found Smith dead.

Smith's mother "described the crime scene as gruesome and believes her daughter struggled with the gunman," NBC Chicago reported.

Trans victims are often deadnamed and misgendered in the media and by law, enforcement, obscuring the true toll of anti-trans violence. Such was the case in Hamilton's killing, the National Black Justice Coalition noted in a press release.

"Briana was misgendered and dead named by news outlets reporting on her murder, which delayed community awareness and possibly the proper investigation," the NBJC post noted.

"I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Briana, to hear about another young trans life stolen" said NBJC Deputy Executive Director Victoria Kirby York stated. "When will there be action taken to end this epidemic of violence? When will there be action taken to protect those in our community who are the most vulnerable? I am once again encouraging lawmakers to introduce and pass legislation that will work to protect the trans community and make their safety a priority."

2020 was the deadliest year since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking murderous anti-trans violence in 2013, claiming 44 victims. A majority of the victims are trans women of color. Tragically, 2021 is well on track to equal or surpass that grim total.

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.