by Jose Soto
February 19, 2021
HRC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Chyna Carrillo, whose name was also Chynna Cardena, a Latinx 24-year-old transgender woman who was killed in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania on February 18. Her death is at least the seventh violent death of a transgender person in 2021. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported.
According to Chyna’s Instagram account, she would have been celebrating her birthday in a few weeks on March 3. She would have been 25-years-old. According to a news article, Carrillo was a nursing home worker who had moved to Pennsylvania from Arkansas to start a new life. Those who knew Carrillo said she was confident, outspoken and unapologetic about who she was. A former coworker of Carrilo’s said that is precisely why the two had bonded.
Mayra Carrillo, Chyna’s aunt, said Chyna was her “beautiful, magical mermaid.”
“I always called her that,” said Mayra Carrillo. “She’s my mermaid, and we miss her. We miss her terribly.”
According to Pennsylvania State Police, officers responded to the scene on the morning of February 18, 2021, and found the suspect assaulting Chyna in the yard of a home. Police ordered the suspect to stop and proceeded to shoot said suspect when he ignored the police’s commands. The suspect died at the scene. Chyna was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown where she died. Pennsylvania State Police have not released the suspect’s name.
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.
The widespread lack of accurate identity documents among trans people can have an impact on every aspect of their lives, including access to emergency housing or other public services. Without identification, one cannot travel, register for school or access many services that are essential to function in society. Many states have burdensome and unnecessary requirements for correcting gender markers on identity documents, sometimes requiring evidence of medical transition – which can be prohibitively expensive and is not something that all trans people want – as well as fees for processing new identity documents, which may make them unaffordable for some members of the trans 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.