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Alabama Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Shooting of Brandon “Tayy Dior” Thomas, a 17-Year-Old Transgender Teenager in Mobile

May 24, 2024

MOBILE, Ala. – The Alabama chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to the shooting of Brandon “Tayy Dior” Thomas, a 17-year-old Black trans teenaged girl, who was shot and killed on March 7. Though police have not yet described her death as a hate crime, Thomas’ family believes she may have been targeted for being transgender, and a Human Rights Campaign article suggests Thomas was shot during a domestic violence dispute surrounding her transgender identity. The shooter was arrested.

“This news is absolutely devastating. Tayy was robbed of a beautiful future by a person armed with hate and easy access to a gun,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “We must continue calling out the disproportionate impact of gun violence on transgender people, specifically Black trans women, as we demand that lawmakers disarm hate. Tayy should be alive today, and we will never stop fighting for the safety of transgender and gender expansive people to live freely and authentically. ” 

“Gun violence prevention is a transgender rights issue, period. Trans youth deserve to live in peace. They deserve to live free from hatred and violence in all forms,” said Makayla Jordan, a volunteer leader with Alabama Students Demand Action “Being your true, authentic self shouldn’t be a death sentence. Gun violence rooted in hate continues to take the lives of trans youth every year–especially Black trans women. We’ll honor Tayy’s memory by fighting for stronger gun laws so that all communities in America can be free from this crisis.”

Since January 2017, there were at least 273 homicides of transgender and gender expansive people in the United States, 199 of which were with a gun. Further, these tragedies have a startlingly disproportionate impact. More than six in ten gun homicides of transgender and gender-expansive people were of Black trans women. It’s also important to remember that there have likely been more deaths that have gone unreported or victims who have been misgendered

This tragic trend isn’t happening in a vacuum. Violence against younger members of the transgender community—59 percent of victims of trans gun homicides being under the age of 30—comes as no surprise in a country where guns are the leading killer of children, teens, and college-aged people. Black children and teens in the United States are also five times more likely than their white peers to die by guns. At least 20 percent of violent deaths among trans people stem from intimate partner or family violence and the great majority (69 percent) of these deaths are with a gun. This tracks with the role guns play in intimate partner violence more broadly: two-thirds of all intimate partner homicides in the United States are committed with a gun. 

Pride month, a time to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities across the country, is one week away. As we commemorate, it is important to recognize the grave disproportionate impact of gun violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Now more than ever, lawmakers should be focused on passing desperately needed common sense gun safety laws that will help protect all communities, instead of working to advance legislation that will put marginalized communities — including the trans and gender-expansive community — at heightened risk. 

Alabama has the fourth-highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S., and the fourth-highest rate of gun homicides and gun injuries, with 1,175 people dying on average per year. The rate of gun deaths has increased 45% from 2013 to 2022 in the United States. Gun violence costs Alabama $15.4 billion each year, of which $421.4 million is paid by taxpayers.

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