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When 29-year-old Denali Berries Stuckey’s body was discovered at the side of a South Carolina road over the weekend, she became the 12th trans woman of color murdered in the U.S. this year, the latest in a grim trend in the trans community.
North Charleston police said they found Stuckey’s body at 4:05 a.m. Saturday with a gunshot wound, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials are still looking for a suspect and a motive for the murder.
Stuckey’s death sparked an outpouring of support from friends, family and LGBT community activists on social media and in North Charleston. On Monday, a candlelight vigil was held in her memory outside of a local LGBTQ center known as the Equality Hub.
"Somebody that was deeply loved by so many was taken from us," Stuckey’s friend Ron’Rico Judon told ABC News Monday. "To have the type of love and support that Denali had, not only from friends and the community but also family, that's rare."
Stuckey is one of more than 140 trans women killed in the U.S. since 2013, according to the Human Rights Campaign; two-thirds of them were black. She's also the 12th trans woman murdered in 2019, all of whom have been women of color. More often than not, these crimes go unsolved, with just 42 percent of investigations into the murders of trans people resulting in an arrest, according to the FBI.
“I am heartbroken and outraged by the news of yet another murder of one of our transgender community members,” Chase Glenn, executive director for the Alliance for Full Acceptance, said in a statement. “Denali is the third known black trans woman to have been murdered in South Carolina since 2018.”
As with many of the reported violent crimes against the trans community, Stuckey was initially misgendered by local officials when her death was made public. Charleston police have since corrected the error.
“We refuse to become numb,” Glenn said. “We will continue to say the names of these women and remember them how they would have wanted to be remembered.”
The growing violence against the trans community is becoming increasingly harder to ignore. Last month, this trend made the national stage during the Democratic presidential candidates' debate when New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker shed light on it.
“We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African-American trans Americans and the incredibly high rates of murder right now,” Booker said. “We need a president who will fight to protect LGBTQ Americans every single day from violence."
Cover image from Denali Berries Stuckey's Facebook page