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Virginia Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Shooting of Ariyanna Mitchell, a 17-year old Black Transgender Girl, in Newport News

May 6, 2022

The Virginia 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 Ariyanna Mitchell, a transgender Black girl, who was shot and killed in Newport News while protecting her friend during a fight that broke out at a party. Though Ariyanna was murdered in April, initial coverage deadnamed her, and the shooting was not accurately reported until recently. 

“Ariyanna’s courageous act of protecting her friend was met with bullets of hatred – a shooting that stole a young girl’s future,” said Tara Taylor, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Though our prayers are with her loved ones, it’s not enough to bring her back or address the epidemic of hate-fueled, anti-trans gun violence. Ariyanna’s death is a poignant reminder of the disproportionate effect that America’s gun violence crisis has on Black transgender and gender non-conforming people every day. Virginia legislators must heed calls for stronger gun laws to protect the transgender and gender non-conforming lives in our state.”

Ariyanna’s death marked at least the 12th violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2022 in the United States and Puerto Rico. It’s likely there have been more deaths that have gone unreported or victims who have been misgendered

2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans and gender nonconforming people in the U.S. Some trends from 2017 to 2021 that researchers fear are continuing in 2022:

  • There was an 93% increase in incidents of tracked transgender homicides from 2017 to 2021 (from 29 incidents in 2017 to 56 incidents in 2021). 
  • 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.
  • Black trans women account for the majority of homicide victims in the trans community. To put this into perspective, while Black people make up 16% of the trans population, 63% of known trans homicide victims between 2017 and 2021 were Black trans women. The majority of homicides (73%) involving a gun were of Black trans women.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has tracked homicides of transgender and gender non-comforming 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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