Gender Non-Conforming Teen Killed at Alabama Christmas Party

Bella Pugh was murdered at a holiday party in Alabama.
Facebook/ Bella Pugh

Days before Christmas, Bella Pugh, a gender non-conforming teenager in Alabama, was shot and killed at a holiday party that erupted into violence.

Pugh, 19, was killed on December 13 in Prichard, near Mobile. The victim’s mother told Fox10 that bystanders filmed the incident and posted it on Facebook. She said they watched her child die.

“You sat there for 20 minutes and recorded [her] on the floor,” Pugh’s mother, Tiffany, said, according to Fox10. “No CPR, nothing!”

Bystanders then said if Pugh “wasn’t wearing that dress,” nobody would have been killed.

On December 16, the Prichard Police Department, based in Mobile, charged James Lee James, Jr., with murder and second-degree assault, reports NB15.

Authorities are not investigating the incident as a hate crime, even as the victim’s family demands police classify the incident as such, according to local affiliates.

Pictures from that night show Pugh wearing a rainbow jumpsuit. The victim’s family told NBC15 that they believe their child was targeted because of their feminine gender expression.

In remembrance of Pugh’s life, family and friends recently hosted a Mardi Gras-themed celebration unleashed unicorn balloons.

Pugh’s mom told NBC15 her child had dreams of traveling the world, and Facebook posts indicate that Pugh was a fan of rapper Nicki Minaj and often described themselves as a Barbie.

Pugh’s mother also noted that she plans to bring the slain teen’s ashes with her to places that her child always wanted to visit.

Pugh’s murder is among the latest in a spate of killings targeting Black transgender people in the US. Black trans women account for a disproportionate number of these deaths, and research shows the rates of violence are growing.

With 41 trans and gender-non-conforming people murdered to date, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has tallied a record number of trans deaths since it began tracking this data in 2013.

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