This past year has proven to be a deadly one for transgender people in the state of Florida. On September 21, Semaj Billingslea, a 33-year-old Black transgender man, was shot and killed in Jacksonville, marking the third known fatal shooting of a Black transgender person in Florida this year. Over the summer, Nedra Sequence Morris, a 50-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed in Opa-Locka. And just three days into the year, Duval Princess, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot and killed at a shopping center in Jacksonville. These tragedies permanently alter communities, leaving both visible and invisible scars on survivors and loved ones.
And this tragic reality isn’t isolated to just Florida. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans and gender non-conforming people in the U.S., and Latina and Black transgender women were disproportionately impacted by the violence. And unfortunately, this trend has also played out in 2022. Gun violence, racism, and violence against the trans and gender non-conforming communities are closely intertwined. 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.
State and local leaders have a vital role to play in combating this violence, but even as hate-motivated gun violence continues to rock communities across Florida, elected officials refuse to take the necessary steps to protect trans and gender non-conforming people. Despite the state’s already sparse gun laws, state lawmakers are still actively working to weaken them, with Governor Ron DeSantis and other lawmakers publicly committing themselves to passing permitless carry, a dangerous policy shown to increase gun violence in other states. Instead of pushing dangerous policies that are proven to make communities less safe, Florida lawmakers should be working to advance common sense gun safety measures that will save lives.
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 non-conforming homicide victims in the United States.
In an average year, 2,849 people are killed by guns in Florida, and 5,267 more are wounded. Guns are the second-leading cause of death for children and teens in the state. Gun violence costs Florida $40.3 billion each year, of which $875.9 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Florida is available here.