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Two Black Transgender Women Killed in Philadelphia and Cincinnati

Photos of Dominique & Riah
Say Their Names: Dominique Fells and Riah Milton

The epidemic of violence against Black transgender women continues to spread, with new victims in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

Dominique Rem'mie Fells (left in photo) was murdered in Philadelphia. Her body was discovered along the banks of the Schuylkill River. Riah Milton (right in photo) was lured to a park in Cincinnati, where she was ambushed and shot to death. Three people have been arrested in connection to Milton’s death.

“We must shine a bright line on the increasing level of violence face by transgender people, and particularly Black transgender women,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “For every headline we see, we know that there are countless incidents of violence that go unreported because Black transgender people are afraid to go to the police. Dominique’s life mattered. Riah’s life mattered. We need to say their names and remember their lives.”

In NCTE’s U.S. Transgender Survey, which included more than 28,000 respondents, nearly 57% of respondents said that they were afraid to go to the police when they needed help. And 58% of transgender people who interacted with law enforcement reported experiences of harassment, abuse or other mistreatment. More than 60% reported being physically assaulted and 64% reporting being sexually assaulted. 

In 2019, NCTE published “Failing To Protect & Serve,” an audit of policies of the 25 largest police departments in the country. The biggest finding was that police departments in the United States are failing to protect transgender people.

“Black transgender women live at the deadly intersection of transphobia, sexism and racism. Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “The police are failing Black transgender people. We must come together to enact meaningful reforms to ensure that transgender people can live their lives as they are without fear of violence in their communities or at the hands of the police.”

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