By Elliott Kozuch
January 2, 2020
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dustin Parker, a 25-year-old transgender man fatally shot in McAlester, Oklahoma, early on New Year’s Day. He was killed while working as a taxi cab driver. Parker is believed to be the first violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2020.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is assisting local police in this investigation. Of the more than 150 known victims of anti-transgender violence from 2013 to present, approximately two-thirds of those killed were victims of gun violence.
“Rover Taxi is devastated at the loss of a member of our Rover family. Dustin was a steadfast friend, an amazing husband and father and generous to a fault. He loved fiercely, worked tirelessly and took on life with so much hope and enthusiasm that his presence brightened all of our lives,” said Parker’s employer in a statement. “His bright, young life was taken far too early. Please keep his loved ones in your thoughts as we all try to pull together to get through these difficult times. Dustin will be missed, but never forgotten.”
Parker was a founding member of Oklahomans for Equality-McAlester Chapter: Southeastern Equality, a local LGBTQ organization. The community will gather at a vigil to celebrate his life on Friday, Jan. 3.
HRC is also closely monitoring the death of a transgender woman in Washington, D.C. on December 29. Police have not released her name, as they are waiting to notify the next of kin.
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. Sadly, 2019 saw at least 25 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported.
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. Transgender and gender non-conforming people in Oklahoma are not explicitly protected across many aspects of daily life, including housing and employment, and are not covered under the state’s hate crimes legislation. Nationally, despite some 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.