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Texas Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Shooting of Maria Jose Rivera Rivera, a 22-year-old Transgender Latina, in Houston

March 2, 2023

The Texas chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement in response to the death of Maria Jose Rivera Rivera, a 22-year-old transgender Latina, who was shot and killed in Houston, Texas last month. Initial reports suggest the shooting was a domestic violence incident. 

“Our thoughts are with Maria Jose’s family and loved ones as they mourn a beautiful life that was senselessly cut short,” said Michelle Herskowitz, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Maria Jose’s death serves as a tragic reminder of the deadly convergence of domestic violence and gun violence that plagues women and trans communities across the country. Texas lawmakers have failed to keep their constituents safe and now it is up to them to step up and take action — there is so much more work that needs to be done.” 

This tragedy wasn’t isolated — Maria Jose’s death is at least the 6th fatal shooting of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023 in the United States and Puerto Rico, and it’s likely there have been more deaths that have gone unreported or victims who have been misgendered. This tragic trend isn’t happening in a vacuum. It comes as some states across the country have been advancing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation while simultaneously dismantling their gun safety laws. This deadly intersection creates a culture in which acts of gun violence towards trangender and gender non-conforming individuals become commonplace. 

2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans and gender nonconforming people in the U.S, and transgender women of color were disproportionately impacted by the violence. Below are trends from 2017 to 2022 that researchers fear will continue in 2023: 

  • Between 2017 and 2022, there were 222 homicides of transgender or gender non-conforming people.  
  • Guns are the most frequently used weapon in the murder of trans people. Nearly three-fourths of trans people killed in America were killed with a gun. This violence is not evenly spread throughout the US. 
  • 1 in 10 gun homicides of transgender and gender-nonconforming people were of trans Latinas.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has tracked homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. since 2017. In addition to breaking down gun violence to the state- and county-level, the platform includes a database of known trans or gender nonconforming homicide victims in the United States. 

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