A Black transgender woman was found stabbed to death in southeast Missouri on May 3, adding to the growing death toll of trans women of color across the nation.
Nina Pop, 28, was found in her apartment in Sikeston, Missouri, with multiple stab wounds, according to the Associated Press. There are few details surrounding the circumstances of her death, though local police have indicated that an investigation is underway and authorities are looking into whether the murder was a hate-motivated crime, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
A person who answered the phone at the Sikeston Police Department on May 7 did not provide any further details but told Gay City News that a department spokesperson would call back later.
No arrests have been made.
Authorities quiet on possible hate motivation; LGBTQ groups ramp up calls for action
The murder came less than two weeks after two transgender women who lived in New York were murdered April 22 in their hometown area of Puerto Rico during a visit to the island. Also last month, a gender non-conforming individual was found dead in a Puerto Rico prison, Puerto Rican LGBTQ activist Pedro Julio Serrano told Gay City News.
Pop is at least the 10th transgender individual to suffer a violent death in the US this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Serrano, meanwhile, said nine LGBTQ individuals, mostly transgender women, have died in Puerto Rico in the last 15 months.
In the wake of Pop’s death, NCTE is pointing to her case as an example of why Missouri needs to promptly implement LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri Human Rights Act, has yet to pass the State Legislature despite multiple attempts.
“Transgender people — and particularly transgender women of color — are facing a wave of violence,” Mara Keisling, NCTE’s executive director, said in a written statement. “Police and other government officials must do more to keep transgender people safe, to thoroughly investigate crimes against out community, and to stop enacting laws that enable transgender people to be targeted.”
HRC, which has been tracking the deaths of LGBTQ individuals annually, condemned Pop’s death and similarly demanded that authorities follow through on the investigation.
“For the past four weeks, we have seen the deaths of five transgender women of color in this country,” Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a written statement. “We are seeing an epidemic of violence that can no longer be ignored. Transgender and gender non-conforming people, especially trans women of color, risk our lives by living as our true selves — and we are being violently killed for doing so.”
Cooper continued, “We must be outraged by this news and we must channel that outrage into action immediately. These crimes must be reported, investigated and prosecuted. These lives must be mourned, honored and fought for. What we are doing is not enough. HRC mourns alongside all those who know and loved Nina, and we will continue our tireless fight to ensure a future where living one’s truth can never become a death sentence.”
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