By Elliott Kozuch
December 18, 2019
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a transgender girl who was killed in Vancouver, Washington. Kuhnhausen was 17 when she was last seen in June and her body was only found this month. David Bogdanov has been arrested and charged with her murder. Kuhnhausen’s cause of death is unknown at this time.
Kuhnhausen’s death is at least the 24th known transgender or gender non-conforming person killed this year. She enjoyed sharing videos of her dancing and singing on her Facebook, and she often posted memes to entertain her friends.
Her loved ones have taken to social media to mourn her passing. “[Y]ou my dear didn’t deserve this … rest with God now,” someone shared. Others have called her “gorgeous” and “a beautiful soul.”
In November, ahead of Transgender Day of Remembrance, HRC Foundation released “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2019,” a heartbreaking report honoring the trans people killed and detailing the contributing and motivating factors that lead to this tragic violence.
These victims are not just numbers or headlines. They were real people worthy of dignity and respect, of life and love.
There are currently very few explicit legal protections for transgender or gender-expansive people. While transgender people in Washington are explicitly protected across many aspects of daily life, including housing and employment, and are covered under the state’s hate crimes legislation — the state does not have a law that prohibits bias rage or so-called “panic” defenses for criminal acts. Furthermore, Vancouver does not have an LGBTQ liaison in the city government or police department, according to the 2019 Municipal Equality Index.
Despite marginal gains in state and local policies that support and affirm transgender people, recent years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government. We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation appearing at the local, state and federal levels because it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.
HRC will continue to hold the Trump-Pence administration and all elected officials who fuel the flames of hate accountable at the ballot box.
This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color — particularly Black transgender women — must cease.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/Transgender.