Black transgender woman Naomie Skinner, 25, was shot to death in Michigan February 12, and her boyfriend has been charged with second-degree murder.
Police were called early that morning to an apartment building in Highland Park, a suburb of Detroit, The Detroit News reports. They found Skinner in a hallway with a fatal gunshot wound to her neck.
Wayne County prosecutors told the News that Skinner and her boyfriend, Michael Cortez Norris, 26, had engaged in an argument that ended with the shooting. They said Norris dragged her body from an apartment into the hallway and fled the scene.
Police eventually tracked Norris down and arrested him. He is charged with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and a felony-level firearm violation.
Skinner is at least the fourth trans American to have died by violence in 2022. Her death reflects the high level of intimate partner violence faced by trans people, advocates said.
“There has been a spike in domestic violence calls,” Julisa Abad, a victim advocate for the Wayne County prosecutor’s office, told Detroit TV station WJBK. “A lot of people don’t seek help for a number of reasons.”
In a Human Rights Campaign press release, Abad added, “Trans women of color experience higher rates of all violence. It’s so important to know about lifesaving resources in your area … as a community we need to do better at protecting and being vigilant for our sisters.”
“At the age of 25, Naomie had her entire life ahead of her,” Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative, said in the release. “Her death is a reminder of the epidemic of violence against Black transgender women. Without action, this epidemic will continue to claim the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people when their lives are just starting out. Naomie’s life mattered and we must continue the fight to protect the lives of not just members of the trans and LGBTQ+ community, but all of us.”
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 54 percent of transgender and nonbinary people have experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their life. This population is also deeply affected by gun violence; research on homicides of trans people from 2017 to 2019 found that three-fourths of them involve a gun, and the proportion is even greater, nearly 80 percent, for Black trans women.
Shycuria Harris, Skinner’s sister, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses. She wants to give Skinner’s loved ones “a chance to celebrate her fabulous life,” she wrote.