NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman in San Jose, CA

NCAVP mourns the death of Natalia Smüt, a 24-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman who was murdered by her partner on April 23 in San Jose, CA. Shortly after harming Natalia, boyfriend Elijah Cruz Segura contacted the police for help, where he confessed to injuring her. Despite attention from paramedics and firemen on scene, Natalia died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

Natalia was a drag performer and artist of Puerto Rican descent. Her Instagram indicates that she was also a rapper, and belonged to the Haus of Smut. Several loved ones are commenting on recent posts by Natalia, mourning her loss. They write “you deserved so much more,” and “We’re gonna make sure you get justice.” One friend, Kaira Ohlde, has organized a GoFundMe on Natalia’s behalf, to raise money for funeral services and her family – specifically her older sister Vanessa Singh. On Twitter, someone named Cindy Campbell has posted a thread honoring  Natalia’s life – her work as a “fire cracker” performer, how she put Cindy in drag for the first time, and ultimately mourning that Natalia was “taken too soon.” 

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a 43-year-old transgender woman in Boston, MA

NCAVP mourns the death of Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, a legendary transgender activist and ballroom performer, who was murdered on May 2nd in Boston, MA. 

A member of the House of Balenciaga, Jahaira was known for her success in walking in the category of realness in the late 90’s, as well as for her work in advocating for survivors of domestic abuse. On Facebook, Robert Harold Dinkins writes: “The House of Balenciaga regretfully acknowledges the death/murder of our own Jahaira M. DeAlto, a community advocate and friend to many. Let us not forget her ongoing work against domestic abuse and continue to uplift her name and ensure her memory lives on in this ironic twist of fate.” Several community members have taken to social media to revere Jahaira, including trans actress and recording artist Trace Lysette: “Rest in power sister Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga 💔  she was the kindest sister, mother, aunty, friend. A ballroom legend. And we want justice.”

An activist since 1995, Jahaira’s work has brought her to the Ryan White Conference on HIV/AIDS at Harvard University, Columbia University’s School of Social Work, and the Berkshire’s first-ever Trans Day of Remembrance event, where she was the emcee and a featured speaker. She graduated from Berkshire Community College in 2019 for Human Services. She was also a successful vlogger on YouTube, where she had over 2,400 subscribers.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman in Houston, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx twospirited transgender woman who was fatally shot on April 23 in Houston, Texas. The suspect attacked Iris outside of a Chick-Fil-A and fled, both his whereabouts and whether the shooting was an act of hate violence remain unknown.

Iris worked as a tarot/oracle reader, and used her Instagram as a platform for bookings, as well as to share what mattered to her with her followers, including commemorating the guilty verdict surrounding the George Floyd case, stats on reduced likelihood of trans suicide for kids whose pronouons are respected, and a graphic that simply states: Sex Work is Work. Iris’ mother, Maria Carreon, told local news station ABC13 “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful person. She [was] always trying to help people, and even when she doesn’t have nothing, she always gives.” Her sister, Louvier, added “We just hope that no one has to go through this again, because it’s awful.” Louvier has also set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for funeral expenses.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman in Brooklyn, NY

NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman who was fatally shot by her ex-girlfriend on April 21st in Brooklyn, NY. After the attack, which occurred just outside a Park Slope deli, Nichelle was quickly rushed to the hospital by authorities, where she was later pronounced dead. 

The attacker, Latisha Bell, was in a tumultuous relationship with Nichelle for “two decades.” They had been broken up for a few years, and those close to Nichelle report that Latisha had recently reentered her life before the shooting. Latisha turned herself in to the police and confessed to the killing merely hours after it happened – she is now facing charges of murder and weapon possession. In a court hearing, Brooklyn DA Wilfredo Cotto detailed the abusive and volatile nature of Nichelle and Latisha’s relationship, citing 13 domestic incident reports – 10 of which Latisha was the aggressor. Neighbors report that when the couple lived together, they’d fight often, ““Furniture was broken, pictures were broken … “they had disputes and fights on the regular, they did.”

A mother of two children, those who knew Nichelle are mourning her death online. An active member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Rev. Anthony Trufant told NY Daily News, ““She was very, very active, very prominent and much beloved … She is someone who had an open heart and a listening ear and an open mind. She just exuded joy.” On Facebook, a churchgoer wrote: “My heart is truly broken this morning … R.I.P Nichelle Thomas. My Emmanuel Baptist Church sister. I will never understand the heart of cowardice killers. Temples of praise dance ministry wont be the same without you. #Devastated.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

The Work Continues: Demands for NYC Mayor and NYPD

Trigger Warning: mentions of fatal police violence

Many of us breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when Derek Chauvin was convicted of all charges for the killing of Goerge Floyd. For some of us, the verdict comes with the hope that perhaps this signals a move forward in our collective work to hold law enforcement accountable for the deadly violence they perpetrate against Black and brown people. But even with our relief, we know there is so much more work to do to fully address and end police violence.

Tuesday, a ProPublica article revealed that after an internal investigation, the NYPD found “no wrongdoing” in the killing of Kawaski Trawick, a 32-year-old queer Black man who was shot and killed by NYPD in his own home on April 14th, 2019. On that day, Kawaski had likely experienced a mental health crisis after being locked out of his apartment. Police arrived on the scene after Kawaski had already been assisted by firefighters, and had safely and quietly returned to his apartment, where he was cooking. Instead of realizing there was no longer a disturbance or threat, police officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis broke the chain to Kawaski’s front door, and after finding him at his stove with a knife, tased, then shot and killed Kawski–all within 112 seconds of their arrival on the scene. For two years, there has been no accountability for Kawaski’s shooting from the NYPD. Neither of the officers have been disciplined, and the Bronx District Attorney has refused to prosecute.

Even as we breathe a brief sigh of relief after the verdict in the murder of George Floyd, we continue demanding accountability for Kawaski Trawick and all of the other victims of deadly police violence in our city and across the country. As an organization that centers LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities and aims to end all forms of violence and as a member of Communities United for Police Reform, we stand with our partners and Kawaski’s family in calling on the Civilian Complaint Review Board to hold a disciplinary trial. We demand accountability from Mayor DeBlasio and the firing of the officers involved in Kawaski’s shooting. AVP and our partners will not stop on until we are all safe and free.

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman in Port Arthur, TX

NCAVP mourns the death of Aidelen Evans, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman who was found dead in a canal in Port Arthur, TX on March 18th. Aidelen’s body was discovered by police, who are now performing a second autopsy by request of her family to determine the cause of death.

Very little is known about the circumstances that led to Aidelen’s passing, and police are asking folks who have information about where Aidelen was last seen or who she was with to contact the Port Arthur Police Department at 409-983-8600 or to contact Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 833-TIPS. Police have not yet ruled out hate violence as the cause of death, calling the situation “suspicious” but stating that revealing any more would be “detrimental”. Aidelen was originally from Beaumont, an area 20 miles away from where she was found, which also complicates the case according to police. 

Her family has been searching for answers since the discovery – “It’s hard, it’s really hard. And the only thing you can do is look to God and ask him,” said Aidelen’s grandfather Dexter Balka. Because of the investigation, family members have not been able to provide Aidelen with a proper burial. Aidelen’s grandmother told local news outlet 12 News Now: “This is heartbreaking, I don’t care what nobody has to say. Nobody should have this. Nobody — no parent should have to go through this.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latinx transgender woman in Los Angeles

NCAVP mourns the death of Rayanna Pardo, a 26-year-old Latinx transgender woman who was fatally struck by a car in Los Angeles on March 17th. Security footage reveals Rayanna was running from a group of harassers, forcing her into oncoming traffic where she was hit. The driver behind the wheel is currently being charged for a DUI.

Her family believes her death was due to hate violence, asserting that Rayanna was forced in front of that car, or even pushed. Still the police have not currently ruled her death a homicide.

TransLatin@ Coalition and Rayanna’s family and friends held a candlelight vigil in her honor, made up of loved ones and strangers who gathered to show support – chanting her name, and sharing stories with each other and local news outlets. Bamby Salcedo, president of the TransLatin@ Coalition told KCAL9 News “Rayanna was such a beautiful young person who just wanted to live her life and be herself.” “I can’t even sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I just picture [her] getting hit by a car, and so I stay awake.” said Monica Pardo, Rayanna’s mother. Her sister Adriana stated that seeing everyone come together in Rayanna’s honor brought her “peace of mind.”

Several folks are mourning Rayanna on social media. “Love you Ray ❤️ will never forget all the memories we made together,” commented one user on a photo of Rayanna. Another commented “your bubbly personality & smile will never be forgotten.”

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Kim Tova Wirtz, an Asian transgender woman in Baltimore, MD

NCAVP mourns the death of Kim Tova Wirtz, an Asian transgender woman found unresponsive in a prison on February 26 in Baltimore, MD. She was being wrongfully held in a male cell where she was discovered, and then transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Very little is known surrounding the details of Kim and her passing, as there are few reports, and police have not refused to release information to Kim’s family without an attorney. There are several routes of action however, including a petition started by Baltimore Safe Haven demanding police release a cause of death. Baltimore Safe Haven is an org that seeks to “provide opportunities for a higher quality of life for TLGBQ people in Baltimore City living in survival mode.” 

Additionally, Kim’s niece has started a GoFundMe to raise money for legal costs, a funeral, and transportation for select family members to assist in burying Kim. Her niece writes “Unfortunately, because of the untimeliness of Kim’s death,  we simply are not equipped to cover the cost and expenses of her arrangements nor legal counsel. Kim’s mom, My grandmother is currently in hospice care in St. Paul Minnesota and is unable to travel to Baltimore to bury her child.” She also states that “Kim has always put others first.”

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman in Cincinnati, OH

NCAVP mourns the death of Diamond Kyree Sanders, a 23-year-old Black transgender woman who suffered a fatal gunshot wound on March 3 in Cincinnati, OH. Police discovered her suffering from the attack in her car, where she was then brought to the hospital and later pronounced dead. 

A substantial obituary posted by her family describes Diamond as a well dressed, family loving woman, who loved to travel. She was “known to be in New York City one week and New Orleans the following.” At her last Thanksgiving with her family, she told them she was thankful that they accepted her for who she was. The obituary details Diamond’s closeness with her family from a young age – she would often say “I love my whole family!” and her upbringing was made up of trips to the Bahamas and Walt Disney World, and weekends with her aunt and grandmother. 

The police are not investigating Diamond’s death as hate violence and use dated and harmful language like “lifestyle” when describing her. Local organizations have spoken out on the problematic nature of the police’s statement – asserting that being transgender is not a “lifestyle,” and that Black trans women face extremely high rates of violence.

An investigation surrounding the attack is ongoing – those with information are asked to call The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Unit at 531-352-3542. 

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

NCAVP mourns the death of Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman in Jacksonville, NC

NCAVP mourns the death of Jenna Franks, a 34-year-old white transgender woman whose body was found near a bike trail area in Jacksonville, NC on Febuary 24. Police are currently investigating the death as a homicide.

Much action has been taken by LGBTQ activist groups since Jenna’s death, including a callout post by GLAAD, demanding that news outlets who knowingly misgendered and deadnamed Jenna revise their reporting, and a fund providing support to LGBTQ people experiencing joblessness and homelessness. The fund – titled the Jenna Franks Interim Housing Project – was started by her sister Amber Franks, and the Onslow Community LGBTQ+ Center, where Jenna was a client. “Jenna Franks lived in Jacksonville North Carolina. She was loved by many people in Jacksonville. She was also a transgender woman,” said the director of the center, Dennis Biancuzzo, in a statement to GLAAD. 

On social media, Jenna’s friends and family are mourning her passing. A celebration of life is being held in her honor on April 10th, and a Spotfund has been started to help raise money for funeral costs. “You were an amazing soul,” writes one user. “I love you Jenna Franks with the bottom of my heart,” writes her best friend. 

Police have asked anyone with information surrounding Jenna’s death to contact Det. Kymberly Schott at (910) 938-6414 or kschott@jacksonvillenc.gov, or Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. If calling Crime Stoppers, refer to Case 21-00540.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.