News » Crime

2021 Tally of Trans Murders Climbs to 14 with Deaths of Jaida Peterson and Dominique Luscious

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 14, 2021

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina say that Jaida Peterson, 29, was murdered.

Her body was found in a hotel room April 4, after police were called to perform a "welfare check," reports local newspaper Charlotte Observer.

Like the majority of the victims, Jaida was a trans woman of color.

Days later, April 8, Dominique Lucious, 28, was shot to death in Springfield, Missouri, the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks deadly anti-trans violence, reported.

Luscious' killing brought the year's tally of deadly anti-trans violence to 14... though the number might very well be higher thanks to underreporting and misgendering of victims. Details were scant, but the HRC did note that police had a suspect in custody.

No arrests have been made in the case of Jaida Peterson. North Carolina lacks state laws that would enhance criminal penalties if it is found that Peterson was targeted for being transgender.

The state does, however, have a long and contentious history of anti-trans legislation. "In 2016, North Carolina passed an anti-LGBTQ bathroom bill to widespread outrage, seriously damaging the state's reputation," HRC recalled.

"This year, anti-LGBTQ legislators have introduced additional anti-trans legislation — including bills that would ban transgender-affirming care for anyone under 21 and require state employees to out trans and queer young people to their parents," HRC added.

The murders of Peterson and Luscious followed two murders in March this year. Latina trans woman Rayanna Pardo, 26, died in Los Angeles March 17, struck by a car.

The circumstances of her death were suspicious, HRC reports; "security camera footage shows her being followed by a group of people as she walked down a street, where she was hit by a car and killed."

23-year-old Diamond Kyree Sanders was shot to death in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 3, exactly one week after Jenna Franks was found dead in a wooded area in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Feb. 24.

Jeffrey "JJ" Bright, 16, and his non-binary sibling, Jasmine Cannady, 22, were both slain Feb. 22 in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

A few days earlier, Chyna Carillo was beaten to death by a 33-year-old ex-con, even as police officers ordered the man to stop. When he refused and continued to beat Carillo, police shot and killed the man.

Four trans women of color were murdered in a span of just under three weeks in various locales around the country, from mid-January to early February.

Bianca "Muffin" Banks died of gunshot wounds in Atlanta, Georgia January 17; Dominique Jackson was gunned down in Jackson, Miss., Jan. 25; Fifty Bandz, 21, was shot and killed in Baton Rouge Jan. 28; and Alexus Braxton was found dead in Miami Feb. 4.

Their deaths followed those of Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, a trans man who was discovered with numerous bullet wounds in Puerto Rico Jan. 11, and Tyianna "Davarea" Alexander, a transgender woman of color who was shot and killed in Chicago Jan. 6.

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.