by Madeleine Roberts
February 2, 2021
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black transgender woman in her early 30s who was killed in Atlanta, Georgia. Bianca, who was nicknamed Muffin by her close friends because of her love for blueberry muffins, was shot to death on January 17. Her death is at least the third violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. HRC has also recently learned of a fourth death, that of Dominique Jackson in Mississippi, who was killed on January 25.
According to Project Q Atlanta, on Friday, January 29, Bianca’s friends and the Trans Housing Coalition (THC) held a vigil outside of her apartment to remember her. Friends described her as “sweet and kind,” and said that one of her dreams was to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race. According to THC, Bianca was living with a friend, Africa, whom she had known for eight years. Bianca found her chosen family in Atlanta. Said THC’s Founder and Co-Director Jesse Pratt López, “Muffin was just blossoming into herself.” Her friend Angel Karmarain said, “I wish she [would] call my phone right now… But she’s not here. I just love her and I will miss you.”
Muffin was truly loved by so many people in her short lifetime. As Black trans women, we are in fear for our lives! Already this year, we’ve lost multiple trans and gender non-conforming people to fatal violence, a majority of whom were Black transgender women. We need to do more — we need everyone in Atlanta and across the country to take action and show that Black Trans Lives Matter.”
Tori Cooper, HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative
HRC recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, more than in any year since we began tracking this violence in 2013.
More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a 2020 report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. According to the 2017-2019 Transgender Homicide Tracker, three-fourths of homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019.
At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Georgia are not explicitly protected in state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces. While Georgia passed hate crimes legislation in June 2020 that does include sexual orientation, the law does not explicitly cover gender identity. While the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government, recent weeks have seen marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people.
We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels, while also considering every possible way to make ending this violence a reality. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially Black transgender women. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive, so we must all work together to cultivate acceptance, reject hate and end stigma for everyone in the trans and gender non-conforming community.
In order to work towards this goal and combat stigma against transgender and non-binary people, HRC has collaborated with WarnerMedia on a PSA campaign to lift up their voices and stories. Learn more and watch the PSAs here.
In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people. HRC, Media Matters and the Trans Journalists Association have also partnered on an FAQ for reporters writing about anti-trans violence.
For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.